As you age, your body starts to weaken, resulting in higher chances of contracting injuries and diseases such as cancer. In fact, Tania Estapé, Ph.D. reported that 60% of cancer patients are 65 years or older because their bodies are more likely to accumulate damaged cells caused by UV radiation or cigarette smoking during their younger years. These people might need the help of psychologists.
When this occurs, the cells continue to multiply and divide abnormally without dying, posing grave health threats to those concerned. For instance, the cancer of the colon and rectum or more commonly known as colorectal cancer according to studies is said to be the second leading cause of deaths for both men and women diagnosed with the disease in the United States.
Patients with this kind of cancer may experience effects physically, emotionally, and financially similar to those with other types of cancers. However, it is usually the emotional needs of these patients that are given the least priority despite them recurring even after the treatment completed. Hence, visiting a psychologist before, during, or after your diagnosis and treatment may help in improving your quality of life.
Psychology In Cancer Treatment
People often disregard the role of Psychology in treating cancer, but studies and reports have shown that psychological interventions have undoubtedly influenced both the patients and their families. Psychologists give them emotional support and help in alleviating distress, which eventually enhances communication among the patients, their families, and their doctors.
Benefits Of Visiting A Psychologist
● Improves Your Health And Well-Being
The theory behind this claim started when David Spiegel, M.D. released his findings on the effect of weekly group therapy sessions to those diagnosed with cancer. He discovered that the participants had survived an average of 18 months longer than those who did not after about a decade. It was later supported by a Canadian study that focused on the effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) on women with breast cancer. Similar to the previous study, the participants displayed fewer psychological disorders and a better overall quality of life.
Furthermore, increased stress might worsen cancer as it may act as a trigger to further promote the spread, growth, and increase of tumors in the body. Thus, having an effective support system could lead to reduced episodes of panic attacks, anxiety, and depression.
In addition to this, psychological interventions can also help in improving a patient’s self-management and control. They become more comfortable with themselves. Patients develop healthier coping skills, which further enhance the health and the emotional and mental well-being of cancer patients.
● Helps alleviate pain during treatments
As previously mentioned, psychologists can help patients in developing better and more effective coping mechanisms, especially when it comes to their treatments. They can equip them with strategies to manage the side effects that come with their medication.
For instance, the Cancer Research UK suggests using self-hypnosis as one of the possible techniques to help patients control their nausea and other side effects and help them to relax. Another strategy that can be taught by psychologists is by using guided imagery or visualization to alleviate discomfort.
In this approach, psychologists bring you into a state of deep relaxation. This is a place where you can then take a journey through your imagination. There are two classifications for guided imagery, namely the Simonton method and the Palming technique. Patients imagine their bodies battling the cancer cells in the Simonton method. While in the Palming technique, it involves patients visualizing different colors to represent various things and emotions.
They can also help in alleviating the strong emotions that cancer induces such as fear and depression. Further, they can influence the patient in making sensible decisions about their lifestyle and choices. Furthermore, psychologists can effectively convince patients to adhere to their treatment regimens and medications.
● Enhances Your Relationship With Your Family
Contrary to common misconceptions, the family members and relatives of cancer patients also experience distress. It is similar to those diagnosed with cancer. However, their emotional needs often receive neglections.
A 2013 study showed that they have higher unemployment rates and lower self-rated health as a result of being more functionally disabled and stressed out. Furthermore, it is critical to also focus on the emotional well-being of the patient’s family. They may impose their frustration on the patient.
Hence, psychologists play a crucial role to prevent this from happening. They can assist family members in managing their stress and overcoming their fear and feelings of isolation through hypnosis and relaxation. Psychologists also encourage their active participation during the patient’s treatment and care.
Adequate care and a stable support system from both family members and doctors are vital. These will promote the overall welfare of a cancer patient. Hence, seeking help and counsel from experts aside from your usual oncologists do not hurt to give it a try.
After one has decided to give up his fight against colon cancer, his final days will be different from other colon cancer patients. It is different for each colon cancer patient. For the 40-year-old active woman with three kids, it might be slow and steady, but for the senior who is suffering from diabetes and joint pains along with cancer, death can come swiftly, like a friend who is willing to spare him or her from the pain. Others might even be able to survive for weeks of meditation or online therapy just to get through their final days.
However, although it may sound devastating, certain symptoms may mean death but are already long awaited by the patient because they know these symptoms will be their comfort. If you have colon cancer and you would like to opt for palliative or hospice care, let your doctor know. He and the rest of the palliative care team are skilled at anticipating and providing maximum relief of symptoms during your last days of life – and yes, palliative care does make a world of difference for the body and mind.
Withdrawal is a symptom that is seen as waxing and waning a few weeks before one’s death. Most colon cancer patients go into an almost comatose stage, and obviously, this is not voluntary. Do not think that your loved one who is suffering has the nerve to ignore you during his last days. He does not have control over this state. Also, this withdrawal is not a result of the medications given to him to make him comfortable. Research and studies have not fully provided the reason for the withdrawal, but an assumption was made that is associated with mental and physical fatigue from battling with cancer.
Pain From Metastasis
Pain is among the most dreaded symptoms of end-stage colon cancer. If a loved one is on his last days, he is most likely suffering from widespread metastasis from inside the colon outward to the other vital organs. The pain is inevitable, and the patient is administered with strong painkillers and opioid narcotics.
Loved ones and caregivers of colon cancer patients most often ask how they can tell if someone is suffering from pain while they are sleeping. There are three marked signs that your patient is not comfortable even when he is at rest. Watch out for these signs:
- Breathing quickly
- Smirking and frowning
- Restless and nervous movements of the hands, feet, and legs
Before assuming that your loved one is hurt, make sure that you have checked the environment he is in. The pain might not be coming from simple discomfort due to wet clothes or increased body temperature.
Anxiety And Confusion
Anxiety, stress, confusion, and hallucinations are among the most difficult symptoms that the patient will be going through. The cancer patient may be seeing creeping insects in his room, angels roaming around, or long lost souls that he doesn’t even know. He might have sudden bouts of anger or upset. There are medicines over the counter that can help ease your loved one’s anxiety and depression symptoms. Remember that when he is upset or confused, it’s best not to make a dispute and don’t make a big deal out of it. Instead, be gentle and be calm.
During his final days, your loved one may manifest with erratic breathing patterns. He may suddenly stop breathing for a while or breath with an accompanying snore or gurgling noise. This is called the death rattle. Just make him more comfortable by elevating the head of the bed. Do not offer water or any kind of fluid at this point. The sound is so troubling especially for the family members because it signifies the final stages of his death.
Some colon cancer patients experience a rally during the final days of their lives, and they can be confusing to their family. Other family members will feel hopeful, thinking that their loved one is improving, but he is not. It is not known why not everyone goes through this rally, but people who have witnessed it personally say that it lasts for a few days and sometimes for just a short moment before they lose their loved one to colon cancer.
There are many things that you have to consider when it comes to overcoming stress and anxiety brought about by cancer. One of the facts that you must always remember is that it will not be easy for everyone in the family to accept your fate of diagnosed with cancer. It can turn your life upside down, especially if the unfortunate news comes as a surprise. Fortunately, it is now highly possible for you to get your mind off the diagnosis of cancer. One of the treatments that you may think of is New York therapy.
Keep in mind that there are various ways on how you can eliminate stress and anxiety in your life. Remember that the process may not be simple, but with the right attitude and mindset, everything can be within your reach. Make sure to familiarize yourself with these top strategies in getting rid of stress:
Attract Good Vibes
The initial step that you have to take is to make an effort in bringing in more positivity in your life. Remember that it is not the end of your life the moment you discover that there are cancer cells in your system. Instead of allowing the illness to bring you down, the smart move for you is to continue searching for good vibes and energy. As much as possible, avoid doing an activity that can be exhausting on your part. Just continue to live your life as it is but do not forget to seize every single day you get.
Talk To A Friend
It can be difficult on your part to open up about your medical condition. For sure, you do not want others to find out about it. However, it is high time for you to understand that keeping everything within yourself can be a lot stressful. All the negative thoughts and emotions will consume you. When this happens, you will continuously feel down to the point that you would feel helpless. As such, do not be afraid to find someone whom you can talk to about your cancer. It is not going to be easy, but you have to do it because it is necessary.
As already mentioned above, one of the treatments that you can try is therapy. All you have to do is to find a professional therapist who can handle your case. Do not have second thoughts in seeking professional help because it can be the one thing that can take you from feeling miserable about life. An excellent therapist can help you take a step back so that you can see the bigger picture of what is happening in your life. Never be afraid to discuss crucial matters with your therapist because he is not allowed to divulge such information to third parties.
Go On Vacation
Sometimes, all you need is to go somewhere far away so that you can clear certain issues in your life. Be spontaneous by going on an unplanned trip all by yourself. Take it as an excellent opportunity to explore the beauty of the world. If you have the budget and means to travel, then be sure to grab that chance. Do not just sit in the corner of your room and wait for a miracle to happen. If you prefer to do it with someone you love, then be sure to prepare yourself for anything that may take place during the vacation. Make every moment count.
Visit A Psychiatrist
If you want to hire the services of a medical doctor who also has a background in psychology, then the best option that is available for you is to look for a psychiatrist. This professional will not only provide you with relevant medical information about your current health. At the same time, he can also help you gain a better and full understanding of your mental health. It can be terrifying to make an effort in finding this information, which is why you have to take your time in getting to know the teacher.
Finding out that you have cancer is bad news. However, never lose hope because things in your life can still improve as long as you put your heart and mind into it.