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The Emotional Effects of Cancer

The experience of learning that you have cancer, as well as of dealing with the disease, has often been described as an emotional roller coaster, and the fact that the phrase is often repeated makes it no less true. It is also true that the highs and lows can be different things for different people. For some the highs represent hope and the lows, dejection. Some refer to the peaks as the times when they felt most anxious and the lows as when they felt the most relief (much like the experience of the scary ride itself). One way or another, it is important to understand that battling this most feared of diseases is not limited to its medical treatment and the body’s recovery. Cancer patients have a lot of internal turmoil to deal with, from the fear of the unknown to the management of skyrocketing cancer costs.

Feeling Stressed About Your Cancer Diagnosis?

Cancer patients often report being so sickened and stressed by the news of their diagnosis that they are unable to move ahead for a while, despite knowing intellectually that they needed to do so. Emotional counselors advise patients and their caregivers to recognize that there will be emotional responses at every step along the way, with fear, sadness and shock being very much a part of the cancer treatment process. There may also be a great deal of anger – all of this is normal. What is most important is that cancer patients and their caretakers are honest about what they are going through. The more that they confront what they are feeling, the greater the chance that they will avail themselves of the cancer resources available to help them cope.

Cancer patients need to understand that it is okay for them to feel bad about what they are going through – it is okay to be afraid, to be scared, to be angry. According to Dr. Laura Dunn, director of psycho-oncology at the University of California San Francisco’s Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer center, “People end up feeling bad about feeling bad because they’ve absorbed this message that they need to ‘think positive.’ A big part of the initial struggle with a diagnosis is trying not to feel guilty about not feeling positive People shouldn’t feel bad about getting help.”

Seek Out Support Groups And Services

That help can come in all shapes and sizes, from seeking therapists or cancer support groups to talk about the experience that they are going through, to looking for help with cancer bills. Though most people who have been diagnosed with cancer feel that they shouldn’t be expressing their concerns about how to pay for cancer treatment, one study showed that more than half of those who have been diagnosed are so stressed about cancer costs that they feel that it impacts their ability to focus on their recovery. The more that people reach out for help, the more resources and support they will learn are available to them. It’s all about finding a way to cope with what you are facing, whether emotional, psychological, social or financial. Though patients aren’t able to anticipate which factor will have the greatest impact on them personally, the truth is that everybody encounters all of these concerns.

Look For Financial Help Early To
Avoid Additional Stress

If you feel that stress about how you’re going to pay for your cancer costs is impacting your ability to focus on your recovery, answers are available. You can seek out life insurance loans that allow you to take advantage of up to 70 percent of the death benefit of the life insurance policy that you’ve been paying into for years.  There are also various non-profits that offer temporary financial assistance that can help you with paying for your rent, food, gas, travel expenses, among other expenses. The financial aid varies depending on the goals and missions of each individual non-profit.  Be sure to ask your social workers, patient navigators, and reach out to cancer support groups to find the emotional and financial cancer support you may need.

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