Wednesday, October 22, 2008


A cancer diagnosis can cause enourmous anxiety. People fear body changes, possible pain, loss of income, adjustments in their personal relationships, and other unwelcomed changes imaginary and real associated with their cancer diagnosis. Because they have so much anxiety in their lives when they are newly diagnosed, during and after treatment, people with cancer sometimes becoem upset, frightened or suspicious for no apparent reason. If this happens, family and friends may need to make a special effort to be reasurring, supportive and comforting.

If you are the "patient" during the course of your illness, you may express anger or hostility toward those around you. Though this can be upsetting to family members and friends, it may help to remember that people often displace their anger and frustrations with a trying situation by projecting those feelings onto people close to them. It is difficult to express your anger at the disease to towards the disease itself (the real cause of your frustration and sadness), so you instead feel angry with family and friends, or whoever happens to be close at hand. Those people, unfortunately, usually bear the brunt of this anger.

Sometimes, people with cancer become childlike and dependent during illness. This may be a way of letting the family know they feel helpless or weak. Though the range of daily activities may be limited by the disease, it is usually best for you to continue accepting as much responsibility as possible for your unique personal ability and circumstances. Continuing to be a responsible, productive adult (to the extent that is possible) supports your sense of confidence and control, while becoming completely dependent on others can make you feel more helpless and victimized by your illness.

Living with cancer includes learning how to cope with the practical and emotional aspects of your diagnosis, as well as learning how to treat your cancer. The emotional impact may be overlooked by your healthcare team. Developing the necessary coping skills to manage the wide range of emotions a cancer diagnois and cancer treatment will no doubt cause you to experience from day to day is a challenging learning process, but when you cope more effectively, reduce your anxiety, and try to focus your energy on enhancing your quality of life, you will be able to manage your medical care effectively.

Meditation, visualization and deep breathing exercises can be excellent ways to relax when you are dealing with stress. Make a tape of soothing easy listening music and listen to it as you relax focused solely on the music and your breathing. Don't be afraid to ask those you live with for privacy when you need it to read a good book, listen to music, pray or simply relax on your own.

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