Coping with cancer
The diagnosis of cancer and the journey that follows has shared features and experiences yet at the same time is deeply personal and individualised.
No two experiences are ever the same yet at the same time it’s also the collective experience of the journey that connects you to others in your time of pain, uncertainty and hope.
Cancer and its treatment disrupts so many parts of your life, from physical to psychological, spiritual and existential, family and relationships, work life and sense of future. Mental health support for patient and family, such as reaching out to a social worker or psychologist; joining support groups; online resources; relaxation techniques; or asking your doctor for appropriate referral, can be a crucial pillar of cancer treatment to improve quality of life and even physical treatment outcomes.
There is a beautiful saying that says, “Cancer is a chapter in the book and not the whole story.” Yet, it’s a chapter that requires endurance, courage, strength and resilience. The facts of the chapter are often out of your control, yet the control lies in the response and attitude you takes towards the circumstances.
Tips to manage the psychological impact of cancer
Express your feelings. Don’t blame yourself for your cancer. Seek out people who can hold your ‘real feelings’ in times of need. Find ways to engage life meaningfully. Maintain humour and laughter. Maximise your good days. Be gentle on yourself. Be comfortable asking for help. Maintain control over areas that are within your control. Maintain hope and manage expectations. Co-pilot the plane alongside your trusted medical team, and keep in mind the famous words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
Existentialist thinkers view suffering as a potential springboard, both for having a need for meaning and for finding it. A cancer diagnosis may be seen as a crisis in the fullest sense of the word, an experience of distress or even despair that may in itself offer an opportunity for growth and meaning.
“Shout out to everyone who is trying right now. Trying to do the right thing. Trying to stay open. Trying to keep going. Trying to hold on. Trying to let go. Trying to find their flow. Trying to stay afloat. Trying to meet each new day. Trying to find their balance. Trying to love themselves. Trying things and new ways. I see you. I’m there too. We all in this together!” – S.C. Lourie
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