Dealing with the Emotions
The mental fatigue and the loss of bodily control that comes along with a cancer diagnosis can cause great stress. The components of the diagnosis and treatment regime can easily overwhelm a person. — Maia Delmoor, MS, LPC, CAADC
Experiencing shock or disbelief is not uncommon after being diagnosed with cancer. Although emotions like sadness, anxiety or depression may be considered unhealthy it is also normal to feel these emotions when facing the reality of being diagnosed with cancer.
“Psycho-oncologists, who address the emotional needs of cancer patients, have determined that a healthy emotional response to a cancer diagnosis includes three phases—initial reaction, distress, and adjustment—that will take patients through a typical grieving process.”
It Starts With Support
Being diagnosed with cancer can be stressful for anyone. Seeking advice, support or guidance to deal with these emotions is not only good for your mental health but also your physical health. Stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on your sleeping pattern, contribute to insomnia and affect your appetite, all of which will have an impact on your physical health.
You can seek out support from a number of sources including therapy near you, social workers or even family or friends. Some hospitals also offer support groups. No matter the resources you choose, dealing with your emotions and being emotionally prepared can decrease stress and anxiety. It is important to remember that your emotional needs are different from the next person, what works for one person, may not work for you. Therapy is not a one size fits all case so it is important you remember to find what works for you.
The transition from a “normal” life to one with cancer can overwhelm a patient with many fears, the biggest being fear of the unknown. Cancer patients experiencing treatments for the first time can be filled with so much anxiety that they develop anticipatory nausea and vomiting. —
Maintaining Your Mental Health
Being diagnosed with cancer can be stressful for anyone. Seeking advice, support or guidance to deal with these emotions is not only good for your mental health but also aids in reducing the negative impact on your physical being.
In response to a request from the National Institutes of Health, this report puts forth a plan delineating actions that cancer care providers, health policy makers, educators, health insurers, health plans, researchers and research sponsors, and consumer advocates should take to better respond to the psychological and social stresses faced by people with cancer, and thereby maximize their health and health care.
More than ten and a half million people in the United States live with a past or current diagnosis of some type of cancer (Ries et al., 2007); 1.4 million Americans are projected to receive a new diagnosis of cancer in 2007 alone (Jemal et al., 2007). Reflecting cancer’s reach, 1 in 10 American households now includes a family member who has been diagnosed or treated for cancer within the past 5 years (USA Today et al., 2006), and 41 percent of Americans can expect to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life (Ries et al., 2007).
Cancer and the Effect on Your Mental Health
Seeking out the support of a therapist is an important part of your treatment plan. With support, you will be in a better position to deal with emotions and feel less anxious while allowing you the time to focus on your physical health. It also helps to speak with those closest to you. It allows both yourself and your loved ones to face the reality of physical health.
Whether you’re diagnosed with cancer or just having a discouraging day, communicating with a loved one feels like the right move. And in fact, a great deal of science suggests that it is. — Kory Floyd Ph.D.
Find what works for you. Look at the various types of therapy available and find the resources that best suit your needs. It is important that you are comfortable and able to interact in your therapy. Start your journey to recovery with a healthy mind. Do not be afraid to feel emotions or to seek out support. It all starts with saying it out loud.
“There was no medal at the finish of this challenge, but the prize was the gift of life.“ BROWN RIBBON: A Personal Journey Through Anal Cancer And The Adventure It Entailed by Robbi Woolard