Cancer Coping Strategies
Being diagnosed with cancer can throw anyone into a state of shock. If you or a family member have been diagnosed with cancer, you'll probably experience the stages of grief, much as when you lose a loved one.
You may feel a loss of identity, in part, because now you're defined by your illness. It's important to recognize that your feelings are normal. But once you're over the initial shock, don't get stuck there. Take charge. Learn everything you can about your illness, treatment options and support services.
Here is some helpful information to get you started on your way to conquering your illness and preparing for a healthy future.
General Cancer Coping Strategies
To help you process a cancer diagnosis, keep these general strategies in mind.
Remember that you have the full support of Cedars-Sinai's staff of physicians, nurses and counselors to help you navigate every stage of your illness.
Sexuality and Cancer
Almost any cancer diagnosis will affect a patient's sexuality. Even if the treatment doesn't affect sexual function directly, side effects like hair loss can hurt a patient's self-esteem.
Sexuality encompasses more than sexual intercourse. It also includes intimacy and emotional support. Being a cancer patient makes you feel vulnerable. Sometimes all a patient really needs is to be held by a loved one.
For many, there is a strong need to feel connected, especially when the whirlwind of treatments makes it seem as if your life is spinning out of control. No matter what one's diagnosis, symptoms or treatment, cancer affects relationships — sometimes for good and bad.
Experts advise patients and their loved ones to talk about everything that concerns them — including sexuality. It's easy to focus all your energies on treatment. But sexuality is important to a person's wellbeing. And a patient's mental attitude can impact one's recovery.
Feel free to talk with your doctor about any sexual problems you may have. Or ask for a referral to a qualified counselor. Almost any mental health professional can help you deal with loss and matters of intimacy. But you might find it more effective to work with a counselor who has experience with cancer patients.
Caregiver Coping Strategies
When a person is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is effectively diagnosed as well. That's especially true of family members who provide care. They may have to dispense medicines, keep track of symptoms, shuttle the patient to appointments and more. All the while they are experiencing stress, anxiety and loss. Indeed, family caregivers often find it difficult to achieve balance in their own lives and wind up not taking care of themselves.
Here are some tips to help you get through caring for a loved one: