When you have cancer, it's only natural to focus on the treatment â€” what it will be, how long it will take, and so on â€” almost to the exclusion of everything else. But the journey to recovery is broader than the particular surgery you undergo or the medications you take. Having cancer can profoundly affect not only your physical well-being, but also your emotional health. You'll have many concerns and anxieties.Â
The single most important thing to know about coping with the emotional aspects of cancer is that you don't have to go it alone. Talk with other men and women in the same situation â€” people you know personally as well as those you'll meet through cancer support groups. Many people find that individual counseling or attending a support group can help them work through a variety of issues, including relationships with family, friends, and coworkers during this time. Consider using mind-body techniques to calm your mind and reduce stress. Seek spiritual comfort and guidance from your religion or other sources. Help your spouse and other loved ones help you by talking with them about your feelings.Self-help steps
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends these self-help steps:
Seek out information. Learn as much as you care to know about your disease and its treatment. This can lessen your fear of the unknown and increase your feelings of control.
Focus. Try to keep your treatment goals in mind. This will help you maintain a positive attitude on days when the going gets rough.
Keep a journal. Keeping a record of your activities and thoughts can help you understand your feelings as you go through treatment and can highlight any questions you need to ask your doctor or nurse. You can also use your journal to record the steps you take to cope with the side effects of treatment and how well those steps work. That way, you'll know which methods worked best for you, in case you have the same side effects again.
Eat right. Eating well is very important. Your body needs a balanced diet to regain strength and rebuild tissues that chemotherapy may damage. If you're taking vitamin or mineral supplements, check with your doctor, nurse, a registered dietitian, or a pharmacist to make sure they won't interact with your other medications. If your appetite is poor, try to find the cause. For example, if nausea or mouth sores are a factor, ask a health care professional about medications to alleviate these conditions. It also helps to prepare easy-to-eat foods such as milk shakes, soft-boiled eggs, and rich soups that you can eat at any temperature that's comfortable. Try frequent, small meals. If you're too tired to cook, have take-out meals, or ask relatives or friends to cook for you.
Set goals. Set realistic goals, and don't be too hard on yourself. You may not have as much energy as usual, so try to get as much rest as you can. Let the small stuff slide â€” just do the things that are most important to you.
Get involved in activities. Try to find interesting things to focus on other than your disease. Try a new hobby, or learn a new skill.
Exercise. Exercise regularly, if you can, because it can help you deal with stress or anger, and can build your strength and your appetite. It can also give you a useful goal to meet.
Consider psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, also known as "talk therapy," with a trained professional such as a psychologist, social worker, or clergy member, can help you cope with the emotional hurdles of combating a life-threatening disease.
Join a support group. Many people with cancer find it helpful to talk with others going through the same experience. Often they can share thoughts and emotions they may not feel comfortable discussing with anyone else. Some studies have shown that cancer patients who participate in support groups have longer survival rates. Talk with your doctor or nurse â€” or with someone from your local chapter of the American Cancer Society â€” to find a support group specific to your type of cancer in your area.
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----------------------------------------------------------------After cancer treatment: Survivorship care
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