Cancer & Emotions: A Guide for Patients and Family Part V: Coping with Cancer
If you need help coping with your cancer diagnosis and treatment, but all you can find online are sources implying that you are (or should be) depressed, then this article is for you. Yes, it’s a normal part of coping with cancer to experience anxiety and depression. But some folks have a very active and strong support system within their family and friends, a great spiritual or faith tradition at their center and a fabulous doctor. So, maybe you are one of these lucky ones. If so, perhaps you’re not depressed, but just need some encouragement, good advice, or just a virtual high-five for hanging in there through your treatment? Here are a few suggestions, tips, and recommendations that can hopefully put a smile on your face and help you push through.
You might be way past this tip, but just in case, I thought I should include it. Gather as much information as you can about your type of cancer, different treatment options, tests and procedures that you need, and possible side effects. Write things down and get a family member or friend to help you, if needed. Keep in mind that you want to be informed and prepared, but you don’t want to obsess over this information. Find a balance between becoming a responsible expert on your condition versus going overboard. Even more important than gathering information is how you will use the information, which brings me to my next point.
Create A Plan of Action
Make a to-do list of questions to ask, doctors to contact, reading/researching that you want to do, how to prepare for tests and procedures, etc. Think about want you want to do with the information you receive during appointments, from other patients, or anything you learn along the way. There are apps that you can download on your smart phone that can help you stay informed and organized.
Physical and Emotional Well Being
After running around to appointments, tests, procedures, friends/family homes, and support groups, you might begin to feel like you’ve taken on a part-time job. Take time for yourself to do an activity that you enjoy. If you find that you’re spending a lot of time around other people, make sure to spend some relaxing time alone every day. It’s okay to let others take care of you, but make sure you spend time taking care of yourself too. Try to keep routines similar to the ones you had before you were diagnosed. You’re schedule will need readjusting
in order to keep up with the demands of your treatment, but you want to maintain some sameness and normalcy.
Talk, Vent, Express Yourself
Having a healthy outlet to release your feelings is so important, now more than ever. Everyone has different preferred ways of expressing their feelings. While some are talkers, others do better writing a story, blogging, or journaling. Don’t let emotions and thoughts about your diagnosis and treatment build up. Feelings are not meant to be kept inside you. If you want to talk, family and friends are usually our first choice, but sometimes it’s hard to handle the (inevitable) emotions and worries from loved ones (i.e., you don’t want to end up
being the designated therapist for others when you really need to talk yourself). In this case, you can talk to a mentor, mental health professional, or support group. You can join or start your own online blog (we did). Whatever the means, express your feelings about adjusting to this new journey in your life.