Psychological Wellbeing in Cancer

Feel - Article 01

“Coping, not coping.”

“Traumatic, shocking, overwhelming, fighting.”

“Recovery, vulnerability, growth.”

These are just some of things people say to describe the psychological impact of their cancer. As you can appreciate, there isn’t a fixed set of thoughts and feelings that people have, or must have, when responding to cancer and its treatment. However, having a guide to understanding, balancing and shaping the thoughts and feelings that will arise as we go through cancer can be helpful.

Mind & Body

Our psychological wellbeing is not just important in its own right, it’s also critical to all other aspects of the treatment programme. At Onko, we think about psychological factors in every aspect of our work – for example, values in our exercise programmes, emotions in healthy eating, relationships in healthy habits. They all work together. Our minds and bodies are not separate.

In this section, we introduce you to FEEL, the psychological wellbeing components of the Onko programme. The guidance and exercises here are specifically drawn from research, clinical expertise and patient experience to enhance your cancer-focused coping, and support your work in the MOVE, NOURISH and HEAL parts of the programme.


Our balanced approach to psychological wellbeing is made up of four sections:

Connect – linking and learning with others around you

Soothe – understanding emotional responses & practicing effective stress-regulation

Create – making time and space to reflect and process what’s going on

Achieve – focusing on what really matters, and getting to it

In each of these sections, you’ll find guidance and exercises to help you understand your mind, reflect on your current balance and practice ways of developing and improving.

Understanding change

It’s very human to want all this to go away, and not be forced to suffer or change. Often, people’s goal is to ‘not let this cancer change me’ or ‘not to feel it so much’ –very understandably. Yet it also wise and healthy to recognise that there will be change. There was always change before (not big enough to notice on most days, but we do change every day) and there will be more ahead. We are human, and we adapt. When we talk to people many months and years after their cancer treatment, they will earnestly reflect that alongside painful and unwelcome impacts, there is equally a welcome, activating sense of clarity to what really matters, a closeness to the right people, a renewed sense of urgency.

Because we know that people can struggle with this dilemma, we personalise the programme to help you sustain what is important, but also change, in a good way, with support. Our aim: a healthy new normal.

A final note

One last thing. For the FEEL section, and throughout the onko programme, if you notice that your psychological reactions are intense or troubling, or are causing you or others around you difficulty, please talk to us and we will work with you to plan an appropriate clinical assessment.