CONTROL – When the shocking news of a cancer diagnosis hasn’t had enough time to set in and important decisions need to be made quickly, cancer patients often feel their lives are spinning out of their control. A goal of survivorship is to give patients tools to manage this stressful situation, to evaluate their options, and to bolster their ability to meet the challenges they face.
ANXIETY – Being diagnosed with cancer creates a future filled with uncertainty, and many cancer patients feel anxious and worried. A goal of survivorship is to acknowledge fears, to decide what can be done about them, and to convert worry into action.
DEPRESSION – Patients often face the loss of what their lives were like “before cancer”. Changes in physical and emotional health take their toll, and many cancer patients become upset, distressed, and depressed. A goal of survivorship is to accept that life brings changes and that this is a time to redirect resources where they are needed most.
ENJOYMENT/LEISURE – Many cancer patients are unable to continue activities that they previously enjoyed either because they are physically unable or simply because they don’t have “the heart” to do them. A goal of survivorship is to re-arrange priorities and to find ways to set their concerns aside and find moments for rest and renewal.
FEAR OF RECURRENCE – Once patients are told that bad cells in their bodies are turning against good ones, it is easy to understand that any new problem or symptom creates fear that something serious is wrong. This is particularly true if the cancer patients have been told that their cancer is in remission. A goal of survivorship is to be aware of changes in one’s health and to bring this to the early attention of the medical staff.
COGNITION/ATTENTION – Stress alone can prevent people from thinking clearly, while some of the cancer treatments can make it even more difficult for patients to feel mentally “with it”. A goal of survivorship is to find new ways of keeping things simple and ordered and of asking for others’ help to stay “on top of things”.
DISTRESS OF DIAGNOSIS AND CONTROL OF TREATMENT – In summary, there are ways to deal with the many emotions that follow a diagnosis of cancer. For most survivors, it is a combination of using the strengths that they brought into this situation and of learning new ways to deal with a changed and changing life.
With Thanks to the City Of Hope, California