The journey through cancer is a journey into the unknown. No one know how to respond, or what to do to help, let alone how to be encouraging and supportive. All anyone can do is to be understanding, not only with you the person effected with cancer, but also with the family members. Children may become disruptive or defiant, partner sand friends may pull away and be unresponsive. These are not signs of them being uncaring or unloving; it is a sign of their own stress and knowing how to respond. You may find yourself not responding, or listening easily confused and lost. This is all normal and to be expected. Good coping tools are needed to help you through this challenging and stressful time. This is not a time to be taking on anything new and complex.
When the journey ahead looks difficult, begin small. When you are not sure of what exactly you should be doing, begin small. When you hesitate and fear whether you will meet your target or not, begin small. When everything seems to have come to a standstill and there is no way forward, begin small. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
For there is beauty in beginning small, there is magic in taking just baby steps – and this magic is that these steps do happen. Doesn’t matter how uncomfortable or incompetent or fearful or hesitant you feel, small steps can still be managed.
Tell yourself that you will not worry about taking just the next step, and that that’s all you will do. You will make hundreds of small beginnings; you will take hundreds of small steps if required. And you will keep doing this till you feel ready to do something bigger or till you realize your dreams.
Life changes don’t need to be drastic, realizing your dreams doesn’t always mean going over the top. You do your thing and the rest will fall into place. You keep taking your baby steps and the distance will get covered.
You DO. You BEGIN. You take ACTION. You take your baby step. You make your small beginning. And that is all that matters. That is all that is needed.
Today, this minute, this moment is all we've got. So, make the best of it. Don't let the threat of a disease, the presence of a disease, or the recurrence of a disease stop you from living today. Whatever that means to you. You don't need to jump out of a plane today to feel alive, but today you might need that. Today you can speak with love and compassion. Today you will people encourage to uplift you and not to bring you down. Today you will be good to yourself. Today you will love and be loved. These are choices you have today. If you are stuck in the past or fearful about the future, your gift of today is gone never to be found again.
To Move Mountains, Carry Small Stones
Deal with One Thing at a Time!
During times of actual crisis, don’t project or worry about the future. Deal with the immediate only. Pick out the closest goal or target. Don’t begin to worry about what will or might occur down the road. Don’t dwell on how traumatic these events are for everyone in the family. This will only increase your anxiety and distress. Pick the next step and place one foot in front of the other; concentrate fully on that. Your worry about the future is a waste of your energy during times of crisis. Furthermore, your predictions may be entirely erroneous.
Create a list of things that need to be done, such as grocery shopping, school runs, child-minding, laundry, errands, lawn care, housecleaning, or spending time with your loved one or friend, and put it on the refrigerator or near the front door. If someone says, “let me know if there is anything I can do to help” you can point to the list.
"With self-compassion, if you care about yourself, you do what’s healthy for you rather than what’s harmful to you.”
- My mind and body need as much rest and relaxation as possible.
- In order to get well, I must pay attention to my needs above all else. This may seem self-centered, but I know that I’m a very giving person - I have been my whole life - and now I need to be indulged a bit.
- I will learn to listen to my own inner guide.
- I will learn respect myself and stop to be a people pleaser.
- I'm willing to explore myself, to support my healing and growth and become true to myself. I want to give myself the best opportunity to heal.
- I promise myself to make it my priority to take care and please myself and make sure I take all the time I need to support my healing and time to do things I enjoy.
- I will take care of myself so that I have the best chance for recovery.
- I commit myself to become actively involved in my transformation for recovery.
- I commit myself 100% to my healing journey and will do the best I can to support myself and my body to heal from cancer.
- I will use my illness for personal learning and growth, resolving losses, completing grief work and self-actualizing.
- I 'm going to learn the skills of emotional expression with doctors, nurses, friends and family members.
- I'm committed to express positive emotions and to release repressed and suppressed emotions, especially anger and resentment.
- I commit myself to develop new supportive patterns of diet, exercise, job and/or living arrangements.
- If I try to be courageous at all times and strong for other people, I’ll be falling back into my old pattern. I realize now that it’s depleting to play that role.
- I will work on my personally boundaries.
- I'm in charge of creating a strong support network for myself, I will overcome my resistance or shyness of reaching out for support.
- I’m optimistic about getting well but I can’t simply rid myself of all negative thoughts.
- I will work through hopelessness.
- I’m going to give myself permission to be sad, grumpy and scared. I find it a great relief to allow these feelings to come out with other people - it was a strain to hide them all the time.
- I do not want want to be a “good patient, I want to be a responsible person who is in charge of all my medical care and health team. I can no longer live up to the label “perfect patient". This may involve disagreeing with doctors or loved ones and choosing intuitively which treatment feels right according to my own understandings and beliefs.
- I will accept the diagnosis of cancer but will reject the prognosis.
- I will secure all my legitimate rights.
- I’m going to take as much time as I need to get well.
- These are gifts I’m giving myself, and they make me feel good about myself and my recovery.”
Take good care of yourself.
With the stress cancer causes, it’s important that you take care of yourself – the whole person – not just the cancer. Some people may want to become more “in tune” with themselves, or just do things that take their mind off the disease. Do what you need to do. Physical activities such as walking, dancing, and yoga can improve your sense of well-being and make you more aware of your body. Poetry, music, drawing, and reading are also creative ways to express yourself and keep your mind off cancer. Meditation and relaxation training can help with anxiety and symptom control. Taking on a new and challenging activity can give you a sense of accomplishment, as well as help reduce stress.
Taking care of yourself also means that you acknowledge your feelings and emotions, that you are honest to share them with others and Not saying that you are FINE.
(F = frustrated, fatigued, I = isolated, ill, N = nervous, E = exhausted, edgy)
Self-responsibility and self-care are essential for you when you have cancer.
- What does that mean to you?
- How do you advocate for yourself?
- How do you proactively take responsibility for your well-being?
- How do you empower yourself?
- What actions enable you to feel your own innate power? How do you strengthen your body, mind, and spirit?
- How do you care for yourself daily?
Creating a Joy Map for Your Life and for Your Healing.
Joy is the foundation of healing.
A great way to create more joy and healing into your life at this challenging time is to create a joy map. The joy map is designed to help you get in touch with your heart and soul, what makes you tick, and what you love. They will help you identify what brings you joy so you can increase it in your life. You will get a clearer picture of what motivates you so you can spend your time doing what is most important. If you are doing what brings you joy, it is easier to be optimistic and life is definitely more fun.
A Joy Map uses a mind map format to brainstorm what brings you joy in your life. Begin by drawing a circle in the center of an unlined sheet of paper. In that circle write what you are brainstorming, “Joy” in this case. On the radiating lines from the center circle, write things that are joyful or fun for you. Continue to list on the radiating lines until you run out of ideas. Changing the color of pen or marker can help stimulate more ideas or expand your train of thought.
Under the radiating lines, list things you can do and places you can go to experience that joy. A Joy Map can be used to explore your hopes and dreams or identify goals. You can continue to create Joy Maps using this tool over time, since life is always changing.
Reaching out to others asking for support
Taking care of yourself also means accepting help from others. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, he or she may need to ask for and accept help for the first time ever. This can include help from friends and family or outside help. Asking for help does not mean you are a weak person. Arranging transportation to and from treatment, getting medical equipment to use at home, hiring a home health aide, or finding someone to watch the children while you are being treated are just a few of the many tasks that may need to be done. Handling all of these changes along with your regular responsibilities can be stressful. To manage well, you often need help.
Ask for what you need
All people with cancer have specific needs related to their body, mind, and spirit, including social and environmental health. It is important that you identify what you need. Think thoroughly how and where your needs can be met.
Taking care of yourself means accepting help from others.
When a person is diagnosed with cancer, he or she may need to ask for and accept help for the first time ever. This can include help from friends and family or outside help. Asking for help does not mean you are a weak person. Arranging transportation to and from treatment, getting medical equipment to use at home, hiring a home health aide, or finding someone to watch the children while you are getting treatments are just a few of the many tasks that may need to be done. Handling all of these changes along with your regular responsibilities can be stressful. To manage well, most people need help.
Link: asking for support creating a support team
Priorities - You Must Put Yourself First!
If you don't care for yourself - others, your caregivers, have to pick up the pieces!
If you have conventional medical treatment for your cancer, it is not uncommon that your hope and good will is sometimes tested to the limed. Your physical and emotional energy can be short in supply. Your treatment will effect you emotional, physically, mentally and may also lowers your spirit.
Many chemotherapy agents can highly influence the mood of patients. These medications can make you feel very anxious, jittery and depressed. You might feel hopeless or helpless; feel a lack of energy, have problems with your concentration and have lost your capacity to enjoy anything in your life. Many of the chemotherapy agents influence weight; they cause a decrease in appetite or in the case of steroids, and increase in fluid retention and weight. This can have an impact on your body image.
The treatment can influence sleep or a high dose steroid can make it difficult for patients to fall asleep and stay asleep. The fatigue of cancer influences also the energy levels and hair loss caused by chemotherapy agents can trigger depression for many women, in particular. Additionally, many of the chemotherapy agents, especially some of the hormonal treatments, can impact negatively on sexual desire and feelings.
Throughout these treatments you need to be special gentle with yourself and ask for all the help you can get. People sometimes describe, themselves as feeling raw, skinless, without a protective shell and very sensitive. It seems like to them as if they have no buffer between them and others and that it is difficult to control their emotions. It is good to know this so that you understand what is happening and can prepare yourself and your life before the treatment.
It is absolute necessary that you take good care of yourself while you receive treatment.This means being very realistic about family, work and social commitments.
Do not try to maintain the "status quo ", do not resist to take time out for rest or for naps. You can't afford to exhaust yourself, looking after your children or aging parents, doing the shopping, going to work as normal and acting "well" to shield your partner or spouse from worry and hassle. Under normal circumstances, the body rebuilds itself when we sleep. When ill, we need more sleep and rest!
This is the time to be absolutely uncompromising in prioritizing: This is the time to care for yourself outrageously and rest and nap!
I'm amazed how often patients will refuse to put - off visitors or social - engagement even though they are emotional and physically "running on empty." If you don't care for yourself - others, your caregivers, have to pick up the pieces.
If you decide to cancel everything and make your treatment period into a time that is just for you, you can transform a potentially very tricky time into a really special healing time.
Get to know yourself and make what you hold dear your priority.
- Learn to pace yourself in your daily schedules.
- Match your time to your values.
- Identify your energy drains.
- Learn what truly energizes you.
- Learn new tools to make your life exceptional!
- Take a moment to appreciate each day.
- Find one thing either visual, auditory or physically - to focus on and find the gift in.
- Every day, try to register something that gives you a pause.
- I truly believe this goes to the core and makes you feel that you're part of something bigger.
- It makes you connect with the idea that we share the earth with millions of others and we don't live isolated lives.
Reducing Stress and rewiring your mind is absolutely essential when you have become ill with cancer, to prevent illness and to promote well - being.
Most of the people only wait until they are completely Stressed out before doing something? I think that most people are continuously stressed out to different degrees, and either people accept it as normal part of life or people just accustomed to it. Eventually this stress accumulates until it is Overwhelming, and only then do people actively take time to unwind from our stressful lives.
Keeping up with your daily routine
If you feel well enough, keep up with your daily routine. This includes going to work, spending time with family and friends, taking part in hobbies, and even going on trips. At the same time, give yourself time to be with your feelings about cancer. Also, be careful about acting cheerful when you are not. Avoiding your feelings may make you feel worse, not better.
Use these questions to think about how you want to spend your time.
- Who do I like to be with?
- Who makes me laugh?
- How do I want to spend my time?
- What makes me feel happy?
- What are my passions?
- What types of things do I enjoy the most?
- What types of things do I like the least?
- Is there something I want to do that I’ve never tried?
Get the most from each hour, each day.
You know it’s never too late to shoot for the stars. On a practical level, try to live each day as consciously and normally as you can. Take care of daily duties and do things that are fun. Both are needed for a full life. And when you can, think about what makes life rich and meaningful for you. Whatever your outlook for recovery, you have to cope with and get through each day. It's not always easy.
Many people say that facing the uncertainties of living with an illness makes life more meaningful. The smallest pleasures are intensified and much of the hypocrisy in life is eliminated.
Try to be creative in everything you do. Try to do your best every time you are doing something. Do not be afraid to use your imagination. It's such a pleasure to do something new. Feel the joy of creation!
All to often, I see people around me looking for short term solutions to stress, such as taking “must needed” vacations, and then they go right back to their hectic and stressful schedule immediately afterwards. I equate this with yo-yo dieting that does not work in the long term. Handling stress must be a lifestyle change that minimizes everyday stress. Furthermore, don't wait until you are stressed out before doing something.
Changing Responsibility and Roles in Relationship and Family
You may need assistance related to your regular responsibilities. Sometimes you cannot do certain tasks due to the disease and its treatments. Along with or separate from physical help, you might require support for your mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental needs. Changing responsibilities and roles in families and friendships due to cancer may occur for the short or long term.
Recognizing responsibilities and roles before cancer provides clues into what feels comfortable and uncomfortable for patients. For example, if you were independent before cancer you may be challenged to request and/or receive help. Issues evolve based on the stage of the cancer journey and each person. After treatments, others might expect their beloved dealing with cancer to resume their responsibilities and roles. Or maybe caregivers want to continue offering support when their loved one is ready to begin former routines.
Negotiating responsibilities and roles in relationships can feel confusing and awkward. Learning how to make those transitions can be liberating. Tune into what feels best for you and know that the process can be fluid. Developing awareness about how you are feeling and your needs is a strong first step.
Be honest about what you can and cannot do. Tell your loved ones what to expect from you. Recognize that energy levels and capabilities ebb and flow through the cancer experience.
Recognize patterns of withdrawal
Both patients and loved ones may initiate withdrawal.
While you have cancer you might withdraw from your love ones and friends. Some people with cancer need space to reflect on and make sense of their situation. Others may also withdraw when they engaging deep healing work.
Emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness influence how people with cancer may or may not connect with family and friends. Behavioral tendencies before cancer offer insights about reasons for withdrawal. Personal and relationship issues present before cancer may become pronounced through the cancer experience. Track how you are feeling to learn more about your patterns. Give yourself permission to do what feels right. Consider talking with your loved ones about withdrawal.
Many people find they have more energy when they take part in physical activities such as swimming, walking, yoga, and biking. They find that these types of activities help them keep strong and make them feel good. A bit of exercise everyday:
- Improves your chances of feeling better
- Keeps your muscles toned
- Speeds your healing
- Decreases fatigue
- Controls stress
- Increases appetite
- Decreases constipation
- Helps free your mind of bad thoughts
Even if you have never done physical activities before, you can start now. Choose something you think you’d like to do, and get your doctor’s okay to try it. You can
do some exercises even if you have to stay in bed.
Start slowly, doing an activity for just 5 or 10 minutes a day. When you feel strong enough, you can slowly increase this time to 30 minutes or more. Let your doctors and nurses know if you have pain when you do this activity.
I know this may seem impossible with a busy schedule, but the problem is a continuously busy schedule. Learn how to do less if your schedule is packed. Meditation and massage are two great ways to alleviate discomfort and relax you. Do something nurturing each day, whether it is taking a walk, soaking in the tub, or listening to soothing music, create some art work, write poetry or stories.
Enjoy the simple things you like to do such as watching a sunrise or sunset. Take pleasure in invitations from friends, your children's hugs and smiles, a telephone call from a love one or friend, big events such as a wedding, the birth of your grandchild. You might feel the joy of having created a piece of art work or enjoy the flowers you have planted. Be conscious of each moment - of the birds singing in the trees, the warm sun rays touching you, the smell and noise of the rain, the fresh breeze of wind caressing your skin, kids playing and laughing in the street, a dog is barking... you are watching everything. Your breath goes in , your breath goes out.
I believe in the healing power of creative expression, and especially in the power of writing. Writing allows you to have a safe place to explore your own emotions and feelings, and it has an incredible way of helping you connect with your inner self. I think that if you learn to write, and you learn to trust your writing, you will be well along the path to recovery.
Most of us don't breathe normally. And when we're tense, we hold our breath. We also breathe too fast, which can make you feel like you're having an anxiety attack. If you stay in the moment, breathing, you metabolize things differently and you put less strain on your heart and your brain, plus you sleep better. I recommend inhaling and exhaling through your nose. But it doesn't really matter how you do it - just find your breath.
There are no claims music therapy can cure cancer or other diseases, but medical experts do believe it can reduce some symptoms, aid healing, improve physical movement, and enrich a patient's quality of life. Some research shows that music therapy can help people with cancer reduce their anxiety.
Art not only helps patients deal with their experiences; but it is proven to assist in pain management and stress reduction. Creating art, viewing it, and talking about it provides a way for people to cope with emotional conflicts, increase self-awareness, and express unspoken and often unconscious concerns about their illness.
Learn EFT, Link: EFT
- At the end of the day in bed consciously think how you felt throughout the day and why. Think what you will do differently next time, and not what you should have done differently.
- At least once a week, meet up with your friends and laugh a bit.
- When you find yourself stressed out, stop and take a few slow deep breaths. This will help you relax and put things into perspective.
- Most hardest, is take periodic and regular time off from your most stressful activity. We never realize how much we are really stressed out, until we break out of our regular schedule and do something relaxing. Even if you love your work or family, slightly varying your routine with something relaxing will greatly reduce stress.
Connect with the earth. one way to feel connected is by imagining you are a tree. Send roots down from your feet into the earth. Feel your feet solidly planted on the ground. Another way to connect with the earth is to work outside. Tend a garden, rake leaves. If this is not possible, while you are not well enough, get some planting pots for the inside of your home and plant some flowers or herbs.
Your diet can affect stress
nutrition and diet
stress and cancer
A healthy diet allows the body and mind to cope with stress better. Additionally, decreasing stimulants, such as caffeine and sugar, has been proven reduce stress too. So when we are stressed out, avoid junk food and eat healthy foods. The foods that we were taught are “comfort foods” are actually quite the opposite.
Regular exercise does not have to be grueling, but it is essential. Exercise stimulates the immune system stimulates the production of natural human growth hormone, stimulates the production of hormones and pheromones that make us happier and healthier, and simply leads to a longer and happier life period. Innumerable studies have demonstrated the overall health benefits of exercise and the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle lacking in exercise.
It is not a coincidence that studies have shown up that those who exercise only a few hours each week have up to 50% less chance of developing many different kinds of cancer.
Exercise has proven to help both the body and mind relax, yet few of us exercise. Join e.g. a yoga class.
Staying involved - managing daily activities, keeping up with your daily routine.
If you feel well enough, keep up with your daily routine. This includes going to work, spending time with family and friends, taking part in hobbies, and even going on trips. At the same time, give yourself time to be with your feelings about cancer. Also, be careful about acting cheerful when you are not. Avoiding your feelings may make you feel worse, not better.
Life doesn't end if you have cancer or a chronic illness.
There are still chores to do, jobs to perform, and relationships to maintain. Things you once took for granted can become much more complicated, but you can learn new skills to maintain your daily activities and continue to enjoy life.
You still need responsibilities, outings and companionship, just as before. Most people find that it helps, where possible, to keep up outside activities such as going to work, taking the kids out, playing cards with friends, or going on trips. You may need to do things that give you a sense of purpose or belonging and things that provide enjoyment.
Many people find that staying active can help. Whether you swim, play a sport, or take an exercise class, you may find that being active helps you accept your new
self-image. Talk with your doctor about ways you can stay active.
Hobbies and volunteer work can also help improve your self-image. You may like to read, listen to music, paint, do some garden work, or sew. You may also want to teach someone how to read or volunteer at a homeless shelter. You may find that you feel better about yourself when you get involved in helping others and doing things you enjoy.
Staying active and involved, of course, does not mean overdoing it.
Staying involved, of course, does not mean overdoing it. Try to recognise your limitations as well as your capabilities. Getting enough rest is extremely important - fatigue can make you feel depressed, and it doesn't help your physical condition. Two common ways that people react to a diagnosis of cancer is to feel like surrendering or to aim to cram a lifetime's responsibilities into a short space of time.
Whatever your outlook for recovery, you have to cope with and get through each day. It's not always easy.
Some people, on being told they have cancer, decide there is nothing to do but give up and wait for death. They are not the first to feel that way. People must work through feelings and fears in their own time. One day might bring feelings of confidence, the next, despair. Many people find it helps to set goals for themselves and their family, towards returning to their normal lives.
You might set a goal for instance to get to the next outpatient appointment, walk to the shops or watch your children's football match.
Link: Goal setting setting goals
Life continues despite your cancer, and each day will bring pleasures and responsibilities quite unrelated to cancer. Try to give these time and attention, rather than letting the illness dominate your thoughts.
FUN, JOY, LAUGHTER
Sometimes people with cancer try new, fun things that they have never done before. For instance, have you always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon or go deep-sea fishing? What fun things have you always wanted to try, but have never taken the time to do.
Try to do something just for fun, not because you have to do it.
Too often we patients fill up our lives with meaningful activities and neglect the frivolous outlets that keep us sane.
I realize that some of you may be involved in some very serious situations, but keep in mind that fun is a state of mind, it’s always there for you to tap into.
Why not to play every day?
See next page: CERTIFICATE OF THE RIGHT TO
PLAY TO PLAY : Be gentle with yourself
Laughter as Medicine
Laughter as medicine - laughter therapy
At some point following their diagnosis of cancer, many cancer patients find themselves thinking, "How will I deal with the pain?" The last coping resource they consider is their sense of humor. And yet there are many stories , along with a growing body of scientific research, showing that humor and laughter can play a significant role in reducing pain.
Patients, doctors and health-care professionals are all finding that laughter may indeed be the best medicine.
Laughing is found to lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, increase muscle flexion, and boost immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being.
The emotions and moods we experience directly effect our immune system. A sense of humor allows us to perceive and appreciate the incongruities of life and provides moments of joy and delight. These positive emotions can create neurochemical changes that will buffer the immunosuppressive effects of diseases and stress.
People with cancer often want to get back to work. Their jobs not only give them an income but also a sense of routine. Work helps people feel good about themselves.
Before you go back to work, talk with your doctor as well as your boss. Make sure you are well enough to do your job. You may need to work fewer hours or do your job in a different way. Some people feel well enough to work while they are having chemo or radiation treatment. Others need to wait until their treatments are over.
Talking With Your Boss and Co-Workers - Key Messages:
- Whether you can work through treatment or return to work after treatment depends on the nature of your work and how quickly you recover, emotionally, physically, and financially.
- There are ways that your employment is protected if you are unfairly treated because of a cancer diagnosis or cancer treatment.
- Learning ways to avoid or prevent workplace discrimination can help when you re-enter the workplace after cancer treatment.
- Before returning to work people must feel that they are fully recovered from the shock and rigorous of treatment, but if they love their work that may well be the best place for them.
- If work is providing a person with really positive self-esteem and a strong sense of purpose, then returning to work is in itself good holistic medicine. On the other hand, if work has been the source of stress, unhappiness and frustration, then cancer can become the important turning point to choose another occupation. And this is where a really good health mentor comes in, to help individuals truly work out the message of the illness and make healthy life affirming choices for themselves.
Many people need to and are able to continue working during treatment for cancer or return to their jobs after treatment ends. For many cancer survivors, returning to work depends on their financial resources and the type of work that they do. Some people need to work to support the cost of treatment and the costs of daily living for their family. However, others may have more physically challenging jobs that are more difficult to perform when undergoing treatment. Those who are self-employed may find it easier to work through treatment because they can set their work hours based on how they feel, but they also may feel more pressure to continue working if there are few employees to help.
You might find that your boss and co-workers treat you differently than they did before you had cancer. They may say nothing because they don't know what to say and don't want to hurt your feelings. Or they may not know if you want to talk about your cancer or would rather just focus on work.
Adjusting to changes in your body and self-image
If you have conventional medical treatment for your cancer, it is not uncommon that your hope and good will to live is sometimes tested to the limed. Many chemotherapy agents can highly influence the mood of patients.
Sometimes cancer treatments cause more illness or discomfort than the cancer itself.
Cancer and its treatment can cause physical changes. Some people feel insecure about how these changes affect their body and their self-image. Some others find it hard to be hopeful when their treatment makes them feel bad. People with cancer can become frustrated when they do everything right but it does not help, or when treatment must be delayed because their body is unable to handle any more. The type of treatment (the drugs and their dosages) and the schedule of treatment all have an impact on the side effects a person may have.
Surgery can change the way you look. Other treatments can affect how you feel. Side effects from cancer treatment, such as weight loss or weight gain, hair loss, and skin changes can also change the way you look. Fatigue can make it harder for you to care for your appearance.
Partners, family members, and friends can help their loved one work through their feelings about all of these changes by offering their love, support, and understanding. It takes time for people with cancer to adjust to the way they feel about themselves and how they look.
People with cancer can become frustrated when they do everything right but it does not help, or when treatment must be delayed because their body is unable to handle any more. Sometimes changes in your mood are caused by certain medicines, while other times they may be part of the stress of coping with cancer and treatment. It is normal to have ups and downs during cancer treatment.
Sometimes changes in your mood are caused by certain medicines, while other times they may be part of the stress of coping with cancer and treatment. It is normal to have ups and downs during cancer treatment.
These medications can make you feel very anxious, jittery and depressed. You might feel hopeless or helpless; feel a lack of energy, have problems with your concentration and have lost your capacity to enjoy anything in your life. Many of the chemotherapy agents influence weight; they cause a decrease in appetite or in the case of steroids, and increase in fluid retention and weight.
This can have an impact on your body image. The treatment can influence sleep or a high dose steroid can make it difficult for patients to fall asleep and stay asleep. The fatigue of cancer influences also the energy levels and hair loss caused by chemotherapy agents can trigger depression for many women, in particular. Additionally, many of the chemotherapy agents, especially some of the hormonal treatments, can impact negatively on sexual desire and feelings and can cause infertility and early onset of menopause in women.
I suggest that you look out for an experience Mentor outside the family and your circle of friends who accompanies you in your daily life.
Link: mentor support
cancer patient support
A mentor will coach, inspire encourage and guide you every step on your way, helping you to assess your needs and create a personal action plan throughout and beyond your medical treatment. You might also consider supporting you and your immune system and vital energy with the many options complementary medicine has to offer.
Sexuality and Cancer - Your sex life may change
People can also have problems with sex because of cancer and its medical treatment. For instance, you may not like how you look and not want to have sex. If this happens, talk with your spouse or partner.
Personal traits, such as a person’s sense of humor, attitudes, honesty, and spirit, are a large part of what makes them attractive to their partner. Medical Cancer treatment may seem to change these qualities.
It is important to remember those traits are still there, but for the moment may be overshadowed by the cancer experience.
Changes in the way you look can affect your feelings about your sexual appeal. You may feel as if you are no longer sexually attractive. Sexual intimacy is one way to express love for someone, but there are other ways to express this feeling.
Your spouse or partner may be afraid to have sex with you. He or she may be afraid of hurting you or having sex when you are not feeling well. Let your partner know if you want to have sex or would rather just hug, kiss, and cuddle.
You can still have intimacy without having sex.
Sometimes, cancer and its treatment causes other problems with sex.
- Fatigue can make you so tired that you don’t want to have sex.
- Surgery can make certain positions painful.
- Prostate cancer treatments can make it hard for a man to have an erection.
- Some treatments cause women to have vaginal dryness.
- Orgasm is sometimes hard to achieve.
Even though you may feel awkward, talk about your sex life with people who can help. Let your doctor or nurse know if you are having problems.
When sex becomes possible, let your partner know what is comfortable for you and when you feel up to it. Your partner may want to give you the space and time you need to adjust to changes in your body and self-image. Your partner may not want to rush you or seem to be insensitive, so it helps if you tell them of your desire for physical contact. Be specific about what you want. Over time, physical contact other than sex, such as hugging, kissing, and touching may help you feel more comfortable about being close.
Remember that you are special for who you are, not how you look. Your sense of humor, intellect, sweetness, common sense, special talents, and loyalty, these and many other qualities make you special. Sex is not the only basis for a relationship. It is one of many ways to express love and respect.
Fertility and birth control
If you think you might want to have children later, it is very important to talk with your doctor about fertility and birth control issues before you begin treatment. Many cancer treatments can result in infertility or sterility. For most people, there are ways to preserve their ability to have children, but this must be done before starting therapy.
Keep in mind that even when sterility is a possible side effect of treatment, it is important to use an effective method of birth control. Even if the risk of pregnancy is very small, birth control must be used during and for some time after cancer treatment because many cancer treatments can harm a developing fetus. It is not safe to get pregnant during cancer treatment with chemotherapy and radiation.
Thinking about the future
You may find it helpful to look beyond your treatment and think about what you want to do when you feel well again. Many people find it helpful to set goals.
Setting goals gives them something to think about and work toward. Goals can also help people focus on what they want to achieve next week, next year, and
into the future. Goals can also help you get you through hard times. In fact, many cancer patients have done much better than their doctor expected because they wanted to go to a wedding or meet their new grandchild.
Learn more about the importance of goals and goal setting while you have cancer: setting goals
It is wise for people with cancer to “put their house in order.” Think about making a will and talking about end-of-life choices with your loved ones. You may also
want to put your photos into albums, write down your family history, and sort through some of the things you own.
Putting your house in order is not the same as giving up. In fact, it is a way that people with cancer can live each day to the fullest and think about the future.
These things make sense for everyone, sick or well.