Your Emotional Health After a Cancer Diagnosis
When a person is diagnosed with cancer, they’re most likely going through a range of strong emotions and feelings. They could also be experiencing shock, a temporary mental state caused by extreme stress where the patient may not feel anything at all. Even though a cancer diagnosis is a tough and scary time for most, it’s important to try and stay positive through it. Mental and physical health are linked very closely. A positive mindset and mental health could help improve the patient’s outlook, reception to treatments, and recovery.
Common negative mental effects, emotions, and feelings a patient may experience after a cancer diagnosis are:
- Coping issues
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Anger, restlessness, or agitation
- Guilt, helplessness
- Confusion, trouble focusing, remembering, or making decisions
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Not everyone has similar feelings. While some may feel certain emotions, others may not feel them at all or in different ways.
6 Ways to Stay Positive Through a Cancer Diagnosis
There are a few things that cancer patients can do to help them stay positive during a cancer diagnosis and beyond. Keep in mind, however, these methods are not guaranteed and don’t always work for everyone. Always talk to your doctor about any new mental or physical techniques you want to try.
- Get your body moving. Studies show a positive link between a healthy mental state and physical condition. When the body goes through a trauma like cancer, it sends waves of distress signals through the body that can negatively impact the mind. This also works in reverse. Physical activity when used correctly can stimulate the mind and have uplifting effects too. Some patients have even noticed extended survival rates when they adopt a more positive outlook. Ask a doctor about their recommendation for exercise, since the body is weaker from illness and shouldn’t be overworked.
- Keep communication open. People with cancer can sometimes feel scared about expressing their feelings or thoughts about their experiences. Other people may feel weighted down and seclude themselves because they think they’re a burden to others. This is rarely the case. It’s important to keep communication open with family members and loved ones. Even if they can’t give the right answers or say anything at all, being able to vent to someone who is trusted and loved can make all the difference. Try not to feel guilty, bad, or in any way negative about reaching out to the family for help. They’re usually grateful to be able to offer their unconditional love and support during difficult times.
- Immerse yourself in positivity. Can’t stay positive? Try and make it happen by surrounding yourself with positive people, places, and things. Eventually, the good energy might wash over you and help you feel better, if only for a little while. Think of your “happy” places or things that make you feel safe and comfortable.
- Try and develop or maintain a healthy diet. When your body is filled with healthy foods and nutrients, it can really help clear the mind and make way for positive thoughts. The brain is a part of the body after all, and when it’s eating well, it can run better. Eating food also releases chemicals in the brain that can affect a person’s mood. Why do you think some people “comfort eat”? Keep in mind, it can be easy to get carried away eating junk food because it cheers you up right away, but healthy foods that make your body stronger can help you more in the long run. Talk to a doctor about healthy diet changes or additions they can recommend.
- Discover or embellish a passion. A cancer diagnosis is as good a time as any to take a long look at yourself and realize what makes you tick. What are you passionate about? Nature? Music? Art? Animals? Pick your passion and jump headfirst into it. It would be a great distraction at the very least.
- Find a support system. Fortunately, there are many support communities, resources, and options that cancer patients can pursue to help them through difficult times. Notable organizations that have been advocating for cancer patients for several years are:
- American Cancer Society
- Cancer Care
- Cancer Support Community
- Cancer Hope Network
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and are finding it hard to stay positive, you don’t have to go through it alone. Reach out to your family or loved ones for help. If that isn’t enough, your doctor can recommend other local support communities and resources. And remember, there is a community online as well. Don’t be nervous to discuss other helpful ways to stay positive during a scary or difficult situation. There are thousands of people going through this with you.
This piece was kindly contributed by Mesothemlioma Hub
BIO: Jen Verta is a digital content writer and editor from Mesothelioma Hub, a resource for individuals suffering from asbestos-based cancers. Jen is passionate about what she writes for cancer and other health websites because she knows her words can have a direct impact on patients, their caregivers, and loved ones.