Cancer Survivorship Care
Cancer is more than an invasive disease that affects the body; it is also a condition that causes emotional reactions that affects lives. The stressors related to the disease extend beyond the patient’s physical ailments, to disrupt the patient’s beliefs about all aspects of her life. Research indicated that cancer patients display more depressive symptoms than the general population (Fillion et al., 2002) and that depression is represented in 14% of all breast cancer patients (Schnoll, Harlow, & Brower, 2000). Many of the feelings are connected to the extreme changes in lifestyle and the demands associated with both curing and coping with the disease and its pervasive nature. Common psychosocial issues for patients diagnosed with cancer are:
*Difficulties in Sexual Functioning
*Body Image & Femininity Concerns
*Medication Side Effects (i.e. nausea, vomiting, healthy cell compromise)
*Cognitive and Physical Functioning Declines
*Stress for the Caregivers of Patients
The good news is that patients can still live a fulfilling life after their cancer diagnosis. Research by Drs. Michael Antoni and Suzanne Lechner suggests that psychological and psychosocial interventions are very effective at decreasing depression and anxiety, improving well-being, eliciting social support, managing the side effects and the stress of having cancer.
Dr. Price’s 5 Tips for improving Cancer Patient’s Quality of Life
1. Reduce anxiety by exploring the sources of your concerns; practice 20 minutes of meditation daily; exercise daily; practice yoga; or deep breathing.
2. Reduce depression by joining a support group; get involved with a cancer walk or event; volunteer for a cause; speak to someone you trust about your feelings; or start journaling.
3. Reduce nausea/vomiting after treatments with systematic desensitization; relaxation training; guided imagery; or hypnosis.
4. Reduce difficulties with sexual functioning with sex therapy; relaxation and communication training; or couples counseling.
5. Reduce body image or femininity concerns by obtaining a prosthetic; wearing clothing that compliments your new body; get a makeover; wear delicate underclothes; or purchase a stylish wig or hat.