You might feel low, distressed or worried while recovering from a stem cell transplant. It’s not surprising – you’ve been dealing with a massive event in your life. These feelings can hang around at first; they get better with time for most people, although some find they need some help along the way.
There are some signs that might mean you need more support. Let your transplant team or GP know if during the last month you’ve often been bothered by:
They’ll make sure you get the support that’s right for you. Find out more about where to get help.
‘I am not quite the same person I used to be. This was a bit of a problem at first. Because I looked OK, everyone assumed I was back to normal.’
Julie had a transplant in 2009
In simple terms, a ‘coping mechanism’ is anything you do to make you feel less stressed. Different things work for different people and it could be that you have to find your own coping mechanisms for a range of situations.
We can’t tell you what will work for you but here are a few suggestions. Some are quick little ‘pick me ups’ while others might help you in the longer term.
Pick me ups
Longer term ideas
‘If you’ve cut yourself off from people or you’re not doing anything you enjoy anymore, try to change this. Make an effort to engage with others, and with things you normally enjoy.’
Read our blog with Phil, a counsellor:
You may decide that you would like to try something new after your transplant. This could be because your priorities in life have changed or it could just be that you want an excuse to get out of the house! Here are a few suggestions of things you might like to try. Just remember, it’s up to you what you do – but don’t push yourself too far and overdo it.
‘I’ve achieved a fair bit since my transplant - I turned 60, I do volunteering work in tennis and was at my son’s wedding nine months after my transplant.’
Nicky had a transplant in 2011. Read her story here.
Share what you’re thinking – find someone you can talk to. It could be a friend, or someone trained to listen: your GP, specialist nurse, transplant team, psycho-oncology team, or a counsellor. You may also find comfort in talking to religious figures or charitable organisations, such as the Samaritans or our Anthony Nolan Patient Services team.
Connecting with others who’ve been through transplant can improve how you feel in yourself:
‘The biggest surprise for me was that talking to people really helped. I don’t normally sit around talking and I had never had therapy in my life – I thought it was all “huggy-huggy” and not really a typical bloke thing to do!’
Read Peter’s blog about finding a positive outlook after transplant.
If you’re struggling with work or money, you can find out more about getting financial support and employment advice. This can help you sort through any problems and relieve some of the stress.There are many ways to get more psychological support if you need it. Talking to your specialist nurse, GP or another member of your transplant team might help. Or you might need to speak to a specialist who is trained in assessing and treating psychological problems.
Some transplant centres have psycho-oncology services, involving clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and other professionals. They’re specialists in providing support for people with cancer and their families. If this isn’t available in your hospital, ask your transplant team or GP to refer you to psychology or counselling. It’s also possible to access free treatment through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. This NHS service allows people with stress and anxiety problems to refer themselves directly to services in their local area.
You can get counselling support from Macmillan Cancer Support or Maggie’s which often have centres in hospital. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has information about counsellors in your area.
If you or someone you know needs urgent help, find out about accessing immediate services and support from Mind.
Information published: 10/10/16
Next review due: 10/10/19