Coping with cancer

  • Thursday, August 14, 2008

Coping with cancer

Few diagnoses are more devastating than being told you have cancer. But once you get past the initial shock, how do you cope?
One out of every two men and one out of every three women will develop cancer in his or her lifetime.
This means either you or someone you love will likely one day be confronted by the disease.
Ways to Deal
The following are a few steps to help you cope when you are first diagnosed with cancer:
•    Express yourself. Remaining positive and optimistic is key. However, there is likely going to be challenging days. Let it out. Expressing your emotions will help you release some of the stress you’re carrying around.
•    Find “your” physician. Once you are diagnosed, find a qualified physician with whom you are comfortable. He or she should have good listening skills and the ability to explain your cancer diagnosis in a way you understand, as well as be likeable and trustworthy.
•    Know your diagnosis. Find out the name, size, and location of your cancer. Make sure to also ask your physician if it has spread and where it started. You’ll want to be as knowledgeable as possible about your diagnosis, treatment, and everything in between. The more you know, the more comfortable you will feel.
•    Have a friend. When you see your physician, bring a friend with you. Sometimes two heads are better than one. Your friend might hear something you didn’t, and he or she can also be helpful in keeping your stress level down.
Trident Health System also offers support groups, such as I Can Cope® , which provides the kind of cancer education patients need – practical information about cancer, an understanding of various treatments used to fight cancer, and self-care strategies for those facing cancer.  Each class emphasizes a topic important to the cancer experience and gives participants an opportunity to share their concerns with others having similar experiences and to design ways to cope with the challenges that arise from a cancer diagnosis.  I Can Cope® guest speakers include professionals in the field of cancer management.  The Group meets the 3rd Tuesday of the month of each month.  For more information, call Trident HeatlhFinders at 797-FIND.

When Someone You Love Has Cancer
Learning that a loved one has cancer is difficult, especially when you have no idea what to do or say in his or her moment of need. Knowing he or she is probably feeling hopeless and lost, you may not be as quick as you would like to be with the right comforting words or actions.
Ways to Help
The following are suggestions on how to help your loved one cope with a cancer diagnosis, no matter at what stage it may be:
•    Be yourself. This is probably one of the most important things you can do. By being who you are, you are providing a sense of normalcy, as if nothing has changed.
Communication is key. Make sure to keep the lines of communication open, even if your loved ones do not want to talk to you about it at a given time. Let him or her know that when he or she is ready to talk, you are there.

Trident Health System also offers support groups for those who are caring for a loved one with cancer.  Caregivers Support Group is a group that was created to provide a place for caregivers of loved ones with cancer to share stories, worries, and celebrations in a supportive environment.  Expressive therapy techniques are used to address how the family is coping with cancer, while encouraging creative self-expression, tension release and relaxation, and new ways of communicating to uncover the veil of silence, fear, denial, guilt, anger, and depression often experienced by caregivers.  This group offers an opportunity to create, connect, express, and refresh your mind, body, and spirit – recognizing that when you care for yourself, you are much better at caring for the ones you love.  The Group meets the 1st Tuesday of the month.  For more information, call Trident HealthFinders at 797-FIND.

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