Being diagnosed with lung cancer is one of the most stressful and emotionally taxing of all life experiences. A variety of feelings arise, often with an unexpected and extraordinary intensity. A lung cancer diagnosis can also present emotional challenges not experienced by people with other types of cancer.

Knowing that there are many others who share these feelings and that those feelings are normal, even expected, can help a person cope with the emotional effects of having lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, shock and denial are frequently the first emotional responses people project after learning they have cancer. Respiratory therapist professionals are trained to provide this support.

It takes time to integrate and come to grips with this life-changing news. People might find themselves wondering and even hoping whether there has been a mistake. This is a common reaction; it is called denial. It passes once there has been enough time to adjust to the fact that the lung cancer diagnosis is very real.

Fear is one of the most common emotional threads that run through the experiences of people with cancer. They might expect to have fears about the possibility of pain, their financial situation, or how the cancer will affect their work or loved ones. One of the most debilitating fears for everyone with cancer is death. They might find it helpful to establish a support relationship with a confidante outside of the immediate circle of family and friends, a person with whom they can openly and confidently discuss their fears.

A 2008 research study published in “Clinical Lung Cancer,” Dr. Noelle LoConte and her research team reported that current and former smokers with lung cancer were more likely to feel guilt and shame about their cancer than are those with breast or prostate cancer.

Dealing with lung cancer almost always involves periods of sadness and grief. The cancer forces a person to change their life plans, at least temporarily. Letting go of what they thought their life would be at a certain point, and possibly having to alter their plans for the future are substantial losses. With loss comes sadness and grief.

Being diagnosed with cancer can be distressing for anyone and their family. An important part of cancer treatment is having support to deal with the emotional aspects as well as the physical symptoms. There is no doubt that a strong support system not only for the afflicted, but close friends and family can allow everyone touched by this disease to cope successfully.