Reactions to a Cancer Diagnosis

The following are better understood as tasks rather than stages. Clients do not progress through these in an orderly fashion, but will go back and forth.

• Denial. This includes insistence that no problem exists, things will be fine and people are overreacting to the seriousness of this problem.

• Anger. During this, there is much discussion about dire consequences and some catastrophic predictions may occur. The client continues to insist that she knows best.

• Bargaining. This involves a “Let’s make a deal” mentality, and what is hoped for may differ and change throughout time.

• Depression. This includes an extreme lack of energy, and a sense of giving up and feeling powerless.

• Acceptance. This involves a belief that this change has occurred, and there is a new normal.