At some point in your life, you or a loved one is likely to receive a cancer diagnosis. And while we are making strides in treatment and living longer with the disease, the emotional and psychological toll of facing cancer, or supporting a loved one as they do, is still tough. How do you get through it? How do you put your hope and fear together into faith for the future? September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, so we are exploring all of these questions that come with the diagnosis of ovarian, or any other type of cancer.
When hearing a cancer diagnosis, in the days, weeks, and months that follow, many feelings will swirl to the surface. All of them are normal, though they can be burdensome.
Overwhelmed: The first thoughts are often of being out of control. Your routine will be disrupted, everyone will use words you don’t understand, and you’ll feel helpless.
Denial: When you first heard the results, you might not even have believed it. You might decide to shun treatment or avoid talking about it.
Anger: It’s normal to ask “why me?” and be angry at the cancer. You might also feel resentment toward your healthcare providers, healthy friends, or even God.
Fear: It’s a scary topic, and you might feel much fear as you think about what comes next – pain, feeling sick, looking different, if you can still provide for your family, if you’ll keep your job, and the possibility of dying.
Hope: So many people diagnosed with cancer are alive and well today. You can build your sense of hope by planning your days as you always have, trying not to limit your activities, and spending time in nature.
Anxiety: You might experience physical side effects of stress, such as your heart beating faster, headaches and muscle pain, differences in your appetite, feeling shaky or dizzy, or finding it hard to concentrate. These symptoms might also be side effects of any medicines or treatment.
Sadness: Many who are diagnosed with cancer feel a sense of loss – of their life before the diagnosis, and of their health. If the sadness continues, it might develop into depression.
Guilt: Many blame themselves for upsetting their loved ones or feeling like they’re a burden. Or they might feel guilty for being jealous of those who are healthy.
Loneliness: Feeling lonely or distant is very common, as those around you are not going through the same thing as you. You might feel alienated because you’re not involved in the same activities you once were.
While all of these feelings are perfectly reasonable, we each must learn to cope with them in such a situation. You can talk to a counselor or a close friend about your feelings, and look for the small positives in your life. Don’t try to fake feeling happy if you’re not; you have permission to have bad days. Be as active as you can, and find ways to relax and do things you enjoy. Creating order in your life will help you feel more in control.
While cancer is never something we want to face, it’s better to be prepared. If you have any symptoms you’d like to talk to a doctor about, or you want to discuss the ways cancer can impact fertility, please contact us anytime at 717-747-3099 or click on the button below. Or if you’d like to learn more about our practice, you can check out our free webinar here.
Dr. Melanie Ochalski