Our member Dr Cordelia Galgut says there needs to be more recognition of the psychological effects of cancer and that counselling should be available to help with the long-term emotional impact of treatment.

“In an ideal world they would go together,” said Cordelia, who was diagnosed with breast cancer 16 years ago and has spoken about her experiences for World Cancer Day.

“The cancer specialists are not the experts in the psychological aspects of living with and beyond cancer.

“There needs to be far more recognition that there’s a whole process that’s going to happen beyond treatment.”

We believe that therapy offers a safe, confidential place to talk to a trained professional about feelings and concerns, including difficult and life-changing events that impact on relationships and emotions.

Therapy can also provide a safe space for family members, loved ones and friends to discuss their feelings and concerns.

Cordelia said: “Counselling and therapy can really help people cope with the longer term effects of cancer if it validates what they are going through, since it is often hard to talk about the reality of life after cancer, due to a widely held set of beliefs that you should be over and beyond cancer, emotionally and physically after a year or so.

“Any counselling that validates the complex nature of an extreme trauma such as cancer, helping the client to accept that it is nigh on impossible to move beyond this trauma and that the job of work is to learn to live with and alongside it, will very likely be hugely helpful to any ‘sufferer’, trying to move through to a better day.”

Cordelia has written about her experiences and others in her new book Living with the long-term effects of cancer: acknowledging trauma and other emotional challenges.

She said that while there have been advancements in cancer treatments, she feels that the psychological aspect for people diagnosed with and who live beyond cancer has not received a similar focus. 

“Coping with the long-term effects of cancer is a mental health issue too,” she said.

“You might be free of cancer, but you might not be free of the physical and emotional effects and, in a fair number of cases, they can get worse over time.”

To find a counsellor or psychotherapist who can help visit our Therapist directory.