Cancer patients: The mental and emotional challenges
A disease is an unusual event, a source of confusion, loss of cognitive control and anxiety.
Despite recent discoveries about the remission and possible cure of cancer, it has remained one of the diseases associated with lack of hope, pain, fear, and death.
According to the Department of Psychological Medicine, University Hospital Centre Zagreb, the most common psychological disorders encountered in patients diagnosed with cancer are depression, anxiety disorders, and adjustment disorders.
The patient needs to be aware that he needs to learn how to cope with the diagnosis and to react to this situation. People react in different ways. It’s normal to feel frustrated, but the way you behave and how you are confronted with the diagnosis and the illness itself can lead to great differences. Of course, your emotional states will change from diagnosis and treatment. What compromises do you have to do to maintain a certain quality of life? How will family members be affected by seeing what you are going through during treatment? What will you do if you find there is no effective treatment? This could be one of the most difficult times of fighting cancer, a shock, fear, distrust of others, sometimes feeling like a punishment for past mistakes.
Fortunately, anyone can listen and support: a friend, a psychotherapist, a psychologist, therapy group, or other patients who have gone through the same anxiety and fears.
Attitudes That Can Help
Your attitude can lead to big differences in how to react to the disease. Courage, compassion, forgiveness and positive thinking are the four attitudes that will help you to be active in fighting the disease.
Courage is the ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. And doesn’t necessarily mean stoicism.
It’s more when you recognize the difficulties you are dealing with and decide to go further in a way that reflects your own personality, your philosophy of life and your moral standards.
Compassion is the desire to reduce or eradicate the suffering of others. Involve it in your inner self, the way you feel alongside others, the way you act to support them when they are in difficulty and they need help. Being compassionate means giving some of the inner spirits, out of your power, to help others. Generally, those who are sick realize that giving compassion to others while they themselves suffer may be, in fact, a force that sustains and motivates them to go further.
Forgiveness. It’s normal that at some point we forget things that have upset and hurt us in the past. When you can forget the past, disappointments, and frustrations, you will increase your chances of being happy today. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to overlook painful things, embrace people who have wronged you or give up justice. Forgiveness means making peace with things that you can’t change and channel all your thoughts on what is important in your present life.
Let the past remain where it belongs.
According to Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital when people forgive, they are much less physically and mentally stressed, less depressed and less tense.
When you forgive, your physical condition improves, you are more optimistic, spiritual and trusting in your own forces.
The benefits of forgiveness are delayed with a positive and positive attitude that will not only keep your quality of life but also increase your chances of being even better.
A negative or pessimistic outlook may reduce the chance of recovery. When you are diagnosed with cancer it can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude.
Another way to help you is to use your energy in activities that will bring you satisfaction.
Also, the emotional support of family and friends is an essential part of maintaining the quality of life. Family and friends can support you emotionally, provide you with physical comfort.
Spending pleasant moments with your friends and family will make your life more enriching. Dine together, play a game or look over an old album of photos.
You can evoke common memories, you can tell funny histories of the past, you can clarify some doubts.
Psychotherapists also help patients to explain the results of analyzes, the type of treatment and options, side effects of treatments, information on patient rights, social support, help the patient to define normal symptoms as well as psychological stress. In conclusion, a therapist needs to know the aspects of the patient’s illness, the prognosis, the treatment that he/she will follow and its side effects.
In Romania, more and more doctors are aware of the overwhelming importance of the psychological support given to patients for any illness, especially cancer or other conditions requiring long-term treatment and long-term physical and psychological resistance.