Cancer is more than an invasive disease that affects the body, it is also a condition that causes emotional reactions that affects lives. The stressors related to the disease extend beyond the patient’s physical ailments and disrupts the patient’s beliefs about all aspects of her life. A review of research conducted from 1999 to 2007 examining depression in patients diagnosed with cancer suggested that approximately 25% of cancer patients qualify for a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. Many women diagnosed with cancer go untreated for psychological conditions because many of the symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite or sleep disruption resemble the side effects of having cancer or being treated for cancer.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Psychotherapy Support Groups are often seen as effective for the treatment of mood in cancer patients. Research conducted by Dr. Davis Spiegel (2007) at Stanford University School of Medicine indicated that support groups increased quality of life and had a positive impact on mood and pain for participants diagnosed with breast cancer.
Many of the feelings are connected to the extreme changes in lifestyle and the demands associated with both curing and coping with the disease and its pervasive nature. Common psychosocial issues for patients diagnosed with cancer are:
- Difficulties in Sexual Functioning
- Body Image & Femininity Concerns
- Chronic Pain
- Medication Side Effects (i.e. nausea, vomiting, healthy cell compromise)
- Family/Friends Disturbances
- Cognitive and Physical Functioning Declines
- Stress for the Caregivers of Patients
The good news is that patients can still live a fulfilling life after their cancer diagnosis. Research by Drs. Michael Antoni and Suzanne Lechner suggests that psychological and psychosocial interventions are very effective at decreasing depression and anxiety, improving well-being, eliciting social support, managing the side effects and the stress of having cancer.
Women’s InnerFitness & Wellness Center is facilitating two women’s cancer support groups. We invite you to join our group of dynamic women and gain or maintain the motivation, encouragement, power, and strength needed to be victorious in mind and body while managing your survivorship. Please call Dr. Price’s office to register;
Dr. Price’s 5 Tips for Improving Cancer Patient’s Quality of Life
1. Reduce anxiety by exploring the sources of your concerns; practice 20 minutes of meditation daily; exercise daily; practice yoga; or deep breathing.
2. Reduce depression by joining a support group; get involved with a cancer walk or event; volunteer for a cause; speak to someone you trust about your feelings; or start journaling.
3. Reduce nausea/vomiting after treatments with systematic desensitization; relaxation training; guided imagery; or hypnosis.
4. Reduce difficulties with sexual functioning with sex therapy; relaxation and communication training; or couples counseling.
5. Reduce body image or femininity concerns by obtaining a prosthetic; wearing clothing that compliments your new body; get a makeover; wear delicate underclothes; or purchase a stylish wig or hat.