A cancer diagnosis can feel devastating and the options can seem overwhelming. At times, it is difficult to avoid feeling gripped by fear. You may feel depressed, anxious, and have trouble sleeping. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. You may want to talk about your feelings, but, for various reasons, you may be hesitant to confide in your loved ones. This is a challenging time, and you don’t have to go through it alone. Therapy for cancer patients can be a great resource.
Counseling can help
It is normal and natural to experience a variety of very uncomfortable emotions when the word “cancer” is in the same sentence as your name. The original diagnosis can lead to shock and PTSD-like symptoms. Once treatment begins, you tend to feel more empowered because you have a plan. When treatment ends, you might find those raw emotions resurfacing as you try to integrate what you went through.
At each stage of the journey, a qualified counselor can be a resource. You have an experienced, objective ear listening to you. A therapist can offer unconditional positive regard. We are also able to stay calm and mostly detached, even when you get upset.
There is evidence that people have better health outcomes when they deal with their emotions. According to David Spiegel, M.D., one of the study authors, “people do better in the aftermath of traumatic stress if they deal with it directly. Facing, rather than fleeing it, is important… In other words, don’t suppress your emotions.” Therapy can help.
The role of stress
Resources as mainstream as WebMD and the Mayo Clinic address the role of stress in health. We know that stress and traumatic events impact the hormonal stress response system. This impact ends up impairing immune function and can lead to disease―even cancer. And we know that there are ways to combat that impact and improve overall health and well-being.
In one study of 94 women with metastatic or recurrent breast cancer, stress was correlated to disease: women who had not experienced significant stressors remained disease-free for longer periods of time than those who did experience significant stress. Clearly, there can be a great upside to receiving counseling for cancer care.
Therapy for cancer patients
I have been supporting clients living with cancer for several years, both in my private practice and through volunteer and professional work in the community. I love it! My cancer-diagnosed clients have such resilience, you all inspire me! I am so lucky to have been a Unite for HER volunteer and psychotherapy provider since 2013.
The mind-body connection
The mind-body connection has major implications for our health and wellness. Because of this, people all across the Western world are taking up practices like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga. Not only do they feel better, there is a growing body of evidence that these practices improve our well-being.
In my counseling work, I introduce clients who are interested to mind-body practices like meditation (you can listen to some I’ve recorded on Soundcloud), mindfulness, and energy psychology. I will keep doing so, as my clients and I have found these to be helpful in dealing with stress. If you would like to learn more, contact me.