Dealing with Anxiety - share your experiences and tips

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Hello Emotional support forum members!

The Online Community Team is thinking about putting together a blog post that deals with the topic of anxiety. We're thinking of outlining some common triggers, as well as sharing some tips inspired by how others have successfully dealt with those feelings in the past. We'd love to include some of your tips and experiences.

If you feel like sharing, feel free to do so by replying to this thread. Here are some starter questions to get you thinking:

  • What triggered your anxiety? Were you waiting for scans? Test results? A procedure? Perhaps something completely unrelated to your diagnosis?

  • How would you describe your anxiety episode? Did it come on quickly, or slowly creep up on you? Was it just thoughts, or did it have a physical impact too?

  • What did you do about those negative feelings? Did you talk to someone? Try to distract yourself? Do something that always helped you to feel better?

We look forward to reading about your experiences.

Please don't forget that if you're struggling, you can always reach out to our Information and Support Team via the Macmillan Support Line. They're always ready to listen, even if you just need to tell someone how you're feeling.

For more information on getting in touch, please see our page linked below:

Getting Support - contacting the Macmillan Support Line

  • Just 'bumping' this post back to the top of the discussion list in case any members haven't seen it yet.

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  • 13 days ago a very good friend, my best friend, someone i have known for 45 years and see as my daughter and my kids see as their big sister, was told she had terminal cancer and maybe has one year to live. She has 2 boys, twins with "minor" learning difficulties aged 10, she had cancer 12 years ago and was cured then 2 years after the boys were born, we thought it had returned though thankfully it hadn't, but it was an awful thing to go through, and as a consequence i was asked to be the boys guardian should anything happen, and it has, as i mentioned earlier. Losing my  best friend is breaking all the family's hearts and to add to this we don't know if I'm going to be seen as a suitable guardian as I also have terminal cancer with maybe, If lucky, 3-4 years and that i may break my promise and not take care of the boys for as long as i can is at times unbearable. I feel I am letting my girl down when she needs me the most. I couldn't sleep, barely ate, didn't want to be alone, cried all the time, my heart which is not good was all over the place. I was irritable - I'm the calmest person I know, I felt cold and had thoughts running through my head that i really didn't want. Thankfully I am blessed with a wonderful family who decided I needed time to think and talk things through so we went away for the weekend, that was 4 days after the bad news, We were very lucky to have a consultation with one of the best oncologists when we got back and on the day we went away asked our solicitor to look into any legal issues that may effect me being guardian to the boys, This was all helpful to everyone's emotions, personally i  was my usual relaxed self, though my heart was it's usual self, I didn't feel cold and wasn't in tears so often. Eating and sleeping and being alone were still a problem, I have had a little anxiety before but nothing like this and had done anxiety, wellbeing and relaxation courses which have always helped in the past and  have helped a little this time, I am feeling a little better every day, got a much better diagnosis-prognosis from the oncologist and our solicitor is very hopeful, which is such a relief, and is helping us all with our emotions and we have a plan B+C. I am fine on my own again walking more than I have done for2 years and feel well physically and getting back to something like normal if you can be normal when your going to lose your girl. best wishes to you all.

    Eddie xx

  • A little update, after more tests our oncologist has said 3 years is likely, and though there are no legal issues to me being the boys legal guardian, in three years I doubt I will be physically able to care for the twins and if I am it won't be for long, so my eldest daughter will become their guardian, good luck and take care,

    Eddie xx

  • Thanks for posting so openly about your experience with anxiety, . It was understandably a very raw time, and it sounds like there were many layered factors that intensified your feelings. I'm glad to hear that your eldest daughter is able to provide some peace of mind to you and your friend regarding guardianship. Green heart

    All the best,
    Macmillan Online Community Team

  • Thank you Matthew, I appreciate that.


  • It's taken me a long time to admit I sometimes suffer with anxiety. I recently found my school report from 57 years ago where the teacher noticed I was anxious. This was a bit of a lightbulb moment as I realised it's probably a lifelong thing for me. I'm gradually finding it easier to acknowledge my anxiety and to be more open about it with health professionals. My anxiety can mean I'm unable to verbalise on occasions so I now go to appointments with a card identifying which issue can cause me most anxiety. 

  • Hello Clem, thank you for posting and for being so open, I know it couldn't have been easy for you, but I found acknowledging and being open with it has helped me so much and I hope it's the same for you. PS I also did a wellbeing + anxiety course an found understanding what it means and how to manage it so important to me too. best wishes.


  • What an eyeopener for everyone and thank you. I too have had life long anxiety. My husband has advanced prostate cancer which as a family we have been dealing with. After gall bdder removal in April l was diagnosed with gall bladder cancer which has spread. We are both "old" 70 and 78. I am taking anxiety medication and have reverted stupidly to nicotine which is absolutely unhelpful.  I am afraid to even tell the consultant who is marvellous or the nurses. When anxiety kicks in I cut myself off from others. I do find at  treatment I revert to the super confident comedian I usually am. I also find I take myself to another place in my head when enclosed in a confined space, by breathing deeply and exhaling slowly and picture somewhere beautiful I have visited. I have taken control of some things like asking for help with lifts etc from friends. This was a difficult thing to I usually am the person people turn to for help.  I am riddled with guilt as we are so lucky to have lived so long and seeing so many others with far more difficult circumstances and so young.  I see a psychotherapist who has been wonderful and helped, also have contact with the counselling service at rhe hospital. If available to anyone I suggest you try them. I do hope this helps someone. 

  • I recently found my school report from 57 years ago where the teacher noticed I was anxious. This was a bit of a lightbulb moment as I realised it's probably a lifelong thing for me.

    Hi ,

    Thanks for sharing, that is so interesting. I can think of several examples in my own life (and in that of friends) where a behaviour or way of thinking was actually traceable to a time further back than any present difficulties. Sometimes it was down to an early life experience, other times it seemed more to do with natural personality types.

    Whatever the cause, it's always good to be honest about them with those responsible for your care, just as you have been. It's a big step, but ultimately worth it. Trying to hide what you're feeling is just an extra bit of emotional energy that you don't want to have to spend!

    Ultimately, I've always felt like being open with medical staff is not only emotionally more healthy, but it also helps those same professionals to support you in the right ways. It's win-win!

    All the best,
    Macmillan Online Community Team

  • I see a psychotherapist who has been wonderful and helped, also have contact with the counselling service at rhe hospital. If available to anyone I suggest you try them. I do hope this helps someone. 

    Hi ,

    This is great advice, and it highlights that there are often multiple support options available for getting help with anxiety. A person's GP, their hospital care team, and of course our very own Information and Support Team on the Macmillan Support Line can all help you to find the most suitable option.

    By the way, some of the coping mechanisms you described were very similar to my own (using humour, sometimes distancing myself from others). I often find that being aware of how I naturally react to stress/anxiety gives me a little bit of advanced warning for when situations are starting to impact me.

    I should point out that this doesn't give me Spock-like powers of emotional control! It doesn't make it any more or less likely that I'll be able to talk myself out of feeling a certain way. But being able to identify my feelings does help me feel less distressed overall, and can help me feel a bit more in control.

    I suppose it's a bit like being woken up to the sound of loud crashes and bangs. I'm still going to feel uneasy that I've been jolted awake, but if someone tells me it's just a thunderstorm going overhead, I do have a little context to help calm me down.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    All the best,
    Macmillan Online Community Team