Mental Wellness

“Recovery is not one and done. It is a lifelong journey that takes place one day, one step at a time.” –

The emotional toll of cancer on patients, survivors, and caregivers, is overwhelming, and often terrifying. If you are a cancer patient facing challenges to your mental health, it is important to reach out for help. Whether it is a medical professional, family member or friend, or a support group, there are many individuals who can help you through this journey. Below, we have listed some support resources for immediate help. Our webinar series hosts many videos relating to mental wellness and cancer; they are also listed below for you to watch.

If you are in need of immediate assistance call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital.

Self-Esteem and Body Image:
In a study of melanoma survivors by Oliveria et al. survivors ‘cited concern about their body image due to surgical scars […] for example, one survivor considered leaving his position in sales as he worried that his facial scars would negatively affect his ability to perform his job’ [1].

This worry is not only tied to melanoma, but to many cancers which involve permanent (or temporary) changes to our bodies. This ranges from permanent scarring, to weight and hair loss. These changes may be detrimental to our self-esteem and mental health. One way to cope with low self-esteem due to cancer is to join a support group, and talk to others who are experiencing the same things as you.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Sharon Salzberg

[1] Oliveria, Susan A., Elyse Shuk, Jennifer L. Hay, Maureen Heneghan, Jacqueline M. Goulart, Katherine Panageas, Alan C. Geller, and Allan C. Halpern. “Melanoma Survivors: Health Behaviors, Surveillance, Psychosocial Factors, and Family Concerns.” Psycho-Oncology 22 (2013): 106-16. Wiley Online Library. University of Victoria, 6 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 July 2015.


Some cancer diagnoses can be challenging to face because of the stigma associated with the disease. For example, lung cancer is often viewed as solely resulting from smoking. This tends to lead to victim blaming, as society sees patients as having “brought the disease unto themselves.” This is a simplistic view which is detrimental to the well-being of cancer patients.

If you are a patient of cancer facing challenges to your mental health, support groups can assist members to resist stigmatization and victim blaming.

If you are in need of immediate assistance call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital. 

Visit the Canadian Cancer Society’s Community Services Locator to find a support group near you.

The Canadian Cancer Society also hosts a confidential telephone-based peer-support service, where you can talk to someone who’s been there.

Financial worries may affect the mental wellness of cancer patients. The Canadian Cancer Society hosts a page about financial help.

Click here for more mental wellness support resources, including crisis help links.


3 Ways Cancer Can Impact Someone’s Mental Health – HuffPost

The mental and emotional challenges of surviving cancer – Harvard Health Publishing

Life after cancer: Your wellness plan  Canadian Cancer Society

Our Webinars:

Staying Mindfully Connected and Experiencing Intimacy after a Cancer Diagnosis – Dr. Gabriela Ilie

Radical Remissions: What we can learn from remarkable cancer survivors about how to live – Dr. Rob Rutledge

Reframing Distressing Thoughts, Self-Compassion and other Mind-Body Techniques on the Cancer Journey – Dr. Rob Rutledge

My Journey Through Melanoma and My Hope for the Future – Kathleen Barnard

The Body-Mind-Spirit Connection – Making a Difference on the Cancer Journey – Dr. Rob Rutledge