Dealing with uncertainty

Often, definite answers are not possible so you may have to accept that uncertainties are common – particularly with questions about the future. When the conversation is about very serious things that threaten your health or your view of the future, you might think that your doctor or nurse knows what is going to happen but will not tell you. Usually, that is not the case.

With treatment for some illnesses, there is very often a lot of uncertainty. The doctors and nurses will not always be able to tell you exactly what will happen to you. For example, if a treatment has a 40% chance of success (and therefore a 60% chance of not working) there is often no way of knowing if you will be in the lucky 40% group or not. It may help you to cope with the situation if you can understand how your progress will be measured. You can say ‘So you’ll decide from the x-rays if the treatment is working.’

If you are unhappy with the care that you receive from your healthcare team, try and talk about your worries as politely as you can. If you can say what you are unhappy with and how this affects you directly, people can hopefully change the situation so that it becomes better for you.

Condition-specific information

Further information on conditions that may be affecting you or those around you:

Support Groups

Visit the NHS inform Support Services Directory to search for local organisations that may help with the issues you are facing:

Last updated: 19 February 2015

This content was supplied by Macmillan Cancer Support.