Dealing with anger & stress about your sibling's cancer

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Feeling angry that your sister or brother has cancer is pretty normal. You might feel like it’s not fair because they’ve done nothing to deserve it, and angry that it’s out of your control. You may be frustrated that because of their cancer you can’t do all the things you used to, and you have extra responsibilities and worries.

Anger sometimes covers up all the other emotions going on underneath, like fear and sadness. Being angry is totally normal, but there are helpful and unhelpful ways of dealing with it.

Good ways to release the anger and stress

  • Do some exercise or sport. Pounding the pavement is better than beating up on yourself or someone else.

  • Have a nice hot shower and cry, sing or yell while you’re in there.

  • Write it all down – don’t edit it just write it. Some people find tearing it up and throwing it away helpful.

  • Listen to music that suits your mood.  Some people find ‘calming’ music irritating when they are angry, or the opposite might be true for you.


Unhelpful ways to deal with it

  • Hurting yourself and others. If difficult or painful feelings build up inside you, they need a way to get out. Bottling things up can lead to harmful or dangerous behaviour if not handled in a healthy way.

  • Drugs or alcohol. Without the lecture, this is really only ever a short term fix. It may seem like a tempting way to cope, but it won’t help in the long run and may actually do you harm.

  • Withdrawing. It’s common to just want to be away from people. It can feel like they’re annoying even when they’re trying to help, or like they just don’t understand. It may seem hard, but try not to push away the people who love you. They only want to help – and it’s much harder to go it alone!

Having cancer in your family sucks, but you are not alone. There are people who will understand and can help. Log in to the Canteen Community to connect with other young people who have a sister or brother with cancer. Or contact a Canteen counsellor for confidential, non-judgemental emotional support online, by phone, or in person.

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