Cancer affects every patient both physically and emotionally.
When diagnosed, you are automatically faced with statistics about your specific cancer, your individual chances of beating it, and the financial burden that the disease will take on you and your family.
If you choose “conventional” treatments, then your body will be subjected to physical therapies such as anticancer drugs and surgeries, which might kill the cancer and give you more time with your loved ones. Or, as is often the case, the “treatments” might actually make you sicker and sicker and give you less time, killing you faster than the cancer actually would have.
Due to its unpredictable nature, people diagnosed with cancer experience fear, anxiety, depression, uncertainty, and so much more. The quality of your life changes drastically as medical issues consume many of your waking hours.
Cancer can feel all-consuming as it tries to steal the light and air from your daily life.
A support system of friends, family, and experts is crucial to helping you fight cancer on the physical as well as the emotional battlefield. Thoughts have power – that has been proven by countless studies conducted by institutions around the world.
Keeping your thoughts focused on fighting cancer – and winning – is the first step to recovery.
Cancer’s Emotional Roller coaster
Patients feel anxious as they wait for a diagnosis of cancer, go through various treatments, or worry about a second cancer site developing. Feelings of dread, sadness, vulnerability, and even panic are common.Anxiety affects your ability to be optimistic, it may cause you to miss appointments or treatments, and be unable to sleep. Even low levels of anxiety are counterproductive to health so learning to manage your feelings of stress before they get out of control is crucial to your success.Certain factors have been shown to heighten anxiety levels in cancer patients
– Fear of the unknown.
– Difficulty performing regular daily activities.
– Dealing with the side effects from various therapies.Many patients experience a relief of their anxiety when they speak to a mental health professional, religious leader, or social worker.
Depression is more than simply feeling “sad.”As many as 30% of cancer patients are diagnosed with clinical depression as they experience the stress caused by the disease. Fear of death, changes in daily routine, financial or legal concerns, grief, and intense feelings of sadness are normal reactions when diagnosed with cancer.Depression can also be caused by anemia, hormone deficiency, insufficient folate or vitamin B1, unbearable pain, or the side effects of cancer therapies.Emotional problems are also experienced by family members of those diagnosed with cancer. Open communication within your family as well and talking to a mental health professional or religious leader can help to relieve the very real (and often emotionally contagious) feelings.
- Post-Traumatic Stress
Researchers discovered that cancer survivors often have intrusive thoughts, heightened arousal, and avoidance behaviors. These are symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Facing a life-threatening illness – even when it is beaten – is an incredibly traumatic event for the patient and their loved ones. Emotional stress can remain high for months, even years, placing you at risk for post-traumatic stress.Although clinicians have not yet developed a specific therapy targeting cancer patients with PTSD, the therapies used for non-cancer victims of PTSD are being implemented with excellent results.
Don’t be afraid to ask for support from your family and friends. Cancer can be terrifying and no one should have to go through the experience alone.
Never ignore feelings of emotional distress or they will steadily worsen.
There is no shame in asking for help. If you or someone you love is struggling with the emotional burdens caused by cancer – or other severe illness – it is important that you seek help immediately. The sooner you talk to a mental health professional, the sooner they can find the therapy that is right for you…and get you back to the positive life you deserve.