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It’s Okay to Feel Your Anger, Maybe Even Necessary

It’s okay to feel your anger, maybe even necessary. 

I am not an angry person. Anyone who knows me would say this is true, but of course, I certainly get angry from time to time.

Who doesn’t?

Sometimes anger is a bit misunderstood in Cancer Land. It’s one of those “forbidden” emotions, which is silly because why wouldn’t receiving a cancer diagnosis (or having a loved one receive one) make a person angry from time to time?

When I first received the call from the doctor delivering the news of my diagnosis matter-of-factly as if letting me know I had an ear infection or strep throat,

I admit it. I was shocked, and then I was angry.

I was angry cancer “picked” me. I was angry breast cancer still existed. I was angry at my mother for not being here when I needed her and yes, I was angry she didn’t get cancer until she was in her seventies. I was angry to be diagnosed decades younger, as if getting cancer at a later age is better. It’s not. I was angry for putting my family through cancer again and so soon. I was angry for losing control of my health, my plans and my life in general. I was angry cancer interrupted the smoothness of my life, for butting in where it did not belong.

So yes, I was angry for those and lots of other reasons too.

Often people with cancer feel guilty for not “doing cancer right.” They feel guilty for not feeling positive and may even wrongly feel this lack of positivity affects their cancer outcome. It doesn’t. They feel guilty for whatever it is they might really be feeling that doesn’t fit the mold of “proper cancer behavior.” They often feel, well, angry.

Well, guess what?

It’s okay to feel your anger, in fact, it might even be necessary.

Anger, just like any emotion, is not good or bad in and of itself. Feeling angry can be a perfectly reasonable emotion for a person with cancer to be feeling, just not all the time, of course. Anger can provide a means to vent and let off steam. It might even be essential to feel anger in order to process through the messiness of cancer.

Yes, anger can sometimes be a necessary, even useful emotion. It can be a great motivator.

Just like I always told my students, it’s okay to feel angry. It’s what you decide to do with your anger that matters.

Anger is like a pot of boiling water on the stove.

First, the water starts off at a slow simmer with gentle bubbles gurgling, creating just a little heat and steam. As the temperature builds, the water becomes hotter. As it reaches its boiling point, it becomes dangerous with its scalding temps and vaporizing steam. If the boiling continues, eventually the water disappears and you end up with nothing but an empty, burnt, ill-smelling pot.

Anger, too, can simmer, intensify and finally boil over if you try to keep it in or covered up. Just like the “boiled out” pot on the stove, concealed or covered-up anger can eventually leave you feeling empty, burned out and able to accomplish little.

This is why it’s important to allow yourself to feel all your emotions, even anger. 

Purposefully channeled anger can be a great motivator.

Use yours to fight back in your own way, not someone else’s way. Let yourself feel your anger and harness its energy to accomplish things.

So, if you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with cancer, allow yourself (or them) to feel all their emotions, including anger. Lean into it from time to time.

Figure out a way to use it in a constructive way. It might take a while to figure something out, but you will.

I am not an angry person, but I do get angry sometimes.

These days what makes me angry about cancer is hearing news that yet another friend was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. And another, also with mets, was hospitalized and still another ended up in ICU with chemo complications.

I get angry when I hear about organizations proclaiming their mission is to eliminate cancer and yet they are allocating less than 20% of donated dollars to research and less than 5% to metastatic cancer research.

I get angry when the focus continues to be on breast cancer awareness and pink ribbon shenanigans. I get frustrated when well-meaning people don’t take time to question.

Mostly, I get angry when people I know and people I don’t know keep dying from metastatic breast cancer.

Yes, I still get angry from time to time.

When I do, I do what I always do, I write about it.

What do YOU do?

What makes/made you angry about cancer?

How do you channel your anger?

Have you felt guilty for feeling angry?

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It's okay to feel anger post #cancer diagnosis, maybe even necessary! #breastcancer #emotionalhealth #angefr #emotions #cancerdiagnosis

Linda C Boberg

Wednesday 18th of August 2021

I get more sad than angry with the cancer thing. It's hard to read about all the strange effects the medications cause others, or how people can barely afford it, or about others dying. So I get sad. And when I feel like my world is imploding, I get very sad - to the point of not sleeping and crying. I do have to watch out for other MBCers' anger. One blog in particular almost took me into the depression pit. I wanted to unfollow it, but there are so many other good things in what she writes. So I decided she was having a bad day (which is allowed), and went on to read something else.


Saturday 28th of August 2021

Linda, Yes, I hear you. I'm sorry to hear about the one blog in particular that took you into the depression pit. It was kind of you to "allow" her that bad day. I've been plenty angry at times. Among other things. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on anger.

Donna Funkhouser

Wednesday 18th of August 2021

I believe that we are given emotions for a reason. Whether it's anger or grief,happiness and joy.this is real life and I myself can't sugarcoat it.I do not hide my emotions because I simply am not good at it and I don't want to! I am an open book. Cancer did and still does make me angry.I heard a news reporter who had just gotten another BC diagnosis in her other breast, say that she was angry because she felt betrayed by her own body. I can relate to that kind of anger, even angry with your own body. Angry because you have to go through this and make your family suffer with you. And Nancy, you are not one bit depressing. You are a very real and caring person. Exactly the kind of person that should be sharing your emotions. P.S. I just got a mask with the colors for MBC. I can't wait for people to ask about it so I can bring more awareness.


Saturday 28th of August 2021

Donna, Yes! Humans feel emotions for a reason. Life is good sometimes and sometimes it is not. All emotions are valid. Thanks for saying I'm not depressing. Believe me, I fully realize my writing is not for everyone. #KeepingItReal. I just can't do it any other way. Good for you for getting that MBC mask! I hope you get lots of questions about it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

ekipa z warszawy boss

Thursday 27th of October 2016

Thanks for finally talking about > It’s Okay to Feel Your Anger, Maybe Even Necessary | Nancy's Point < Loved it!

Blog post title – Where We Go Now

Saturday 8th of October 2016

[…] Well, I blog about it. I have a post called “It’s OK to Feel Your Anger.” I not only think it’s ok, I think it’s essential. All emotions are real and need validation. We can’t try to hide them or stomp them out, they only come back later in another form. Thanks for this post that says feeling angry is alright. Of course, we do need to figure out ways to channel that anger, but that takes time. Give yourself that time. And again, what I do is blog about it! Here’s a link to that post if you’re interested. […]

Valerie Nemeth

Monday 22nd of February 2016


Since I was dx'ed with breast cancer in December, it had me feeling a mixture of being peeved and down at times in relation to the loss of my personal "bathing autonomy," and unfairly being forced to put my reality of normalcy in the form of work, school and volunteering on hold in favor of a reality of blood tests, biopsies, medical appointments and chemo sessions. I at times dreaded the notion of how I may go down the highway to chemo hell in the sense of how the side effects may be cumulative and catch up with me with subsequent chemo rounds and found I could only hope I would continue to get lucky with being able to tolerate the subsequent rounds of chemo with seemingly no side effects. Considering how something may have been "up" with my right breast earlier in 2015, I seemed to have survived my efforts to give an "f.u." to breast cancer by not letting it get in the way of other things I considered to matter to me such as saying good bye to CAT FANCY and DOG FANCY magazine as they were ceasing publication and "morphing" into Catster and Dogster magazine, by buying the final hurrah issues of those magazines and technically completing my "v.i.p's" or "very important projects" of the "memory books" where I celebrated all in my life that I considered "cool." Considering how the breast cancer is my worst enemy, I plan to in a sense get my "revenge" on it by finding the right groups of like minded people who'd "been there done that" in how they dealt with it or were STILL having to deal with it and also get it that BREAST CANCER SUCKS and seeing about joining them to advocate AGAINST breast cancer and FOR better treatments and possibly even a way to cure it.

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