In society there is a growing awareness that a vital factor for patients with chronic diseases is how well they are able to function in their everyday lives. The aim was to reach a deeper understanding of living with head and neck cancer (HNC). Interviews were performed and critical incident technique, thematic and latent content, and interpretative descriptive analysis were used. Everyday living was expressed as living in captivity, in the sense that patients’ sometimes life-threatening symptoms were constant reminders of the disease. Patients struggled to find power and control from inner strength and other health resources, e.g. social networks, nature, hobbies, activity, and health professionals. Some patients were more vulnerable and felt lost and abandoned by health services, especially before and after treatment. A mutual working relationship during dialoguing and sensed co-operation and equality in encounters with competent health professionals could promote health and well-being. The findings highlight psychosocial rehabilitation in a patient-centred organisation when health professionals support patients’ inner strength and health resources.