In all honesty, the diagnosis of anal cancer includes an unwarranted stigma on it. That is because when someone gets diagnosed with the condition, there is an instant buildup of shame. There is a constant questioning of “whys.” With that, a therapist would understand that the emotional struggle sometimes takes a big part of the whole recovery process. And that is due to patients’ mentality. There is an embarrassment because the condition appears located at the awkward part of the body.
“Our genitals… these are things we’ve been conditioned that it’s not appropriate to talk about in public, and anal cancer combines all of it — anus, sex, penetration — it’s all there.” says Debbie Saslow, PhD,
A lot of individuals do not realize that cancer does not control its existence. Meaning, you get to have it from any parts of the body, regardless if it is internal or external. Small and huge, mild or severe, still it won’t matter. Someone can get cancer just anywhere, including the anal. In some unfortunate cases, even if a lot of people understand what the condition is, they sometimes do not want to seek out help. These persons are too embarrassed to let others know that they have anal cancer. With that, the idea of stepping through the awkwardness of the whole situation becomes less confronting. Therefore, treatments get disregarded as well.
Due to societal pressure and different perception towards the particular body part, individuals with anal cancer feel less confident about themselves. They try to ignore signs and symptoms without thinking about the possible growth and severity of the condition. So when things appear complicated and when they already decided to seek out help finally, it becomes too late. That is because these people tend to ignore what their body is telling them only because they consider their emotional state more. But no one can blame them. The judgments and criticisms they are afraid to get is the primary source of the damage to their mental health.
Anal Cancer And Mental Health
People with anal cancer become over thinkers. That explains why almost all of them obtain a diagnosis of severe anxiety and clinical depression. The reason for that is the small percentage of individuals who are more concern about what could happen negatively. These individuals continuously think about stuff like undergoing surgery, financial battle along with the condition, hassle with therapy and treatments, and fear of dying. These negative thoughts become the center of their lives. There is a constant worry for everything that sometimes the whole scenario turns unrealistic anymore.
In some cases, people with anal cancer tend to become more irritable, angry, and unpredictable. Sometimes they feel okay but then can feel a little off in an instant. These people do not concentrate on what is in front of them and often try to waste time thinking about more significant problems. Nevertheless, these individuals’ worries become untypical that it begins to consume their lives.
Worry and stress are indeed natural. That is especially for those people who are experiencing a particular unfortunate event of their lives. So others can’t blame them for feeling and thinking that way. Becoming ill for the short or long period takes a toll on the physical, emotional, and mental aspect of every individual with anal cancer. One cannot fully understand what these people are going through. So with the entire stigma that covers the whole case of having anal cancer, everything emotional and psychological becomes a never-ending battle.
Help, Not Criticize
“Your support, no matter how you give it, is appreciated. Whether you write cards or offer prayers or give someone a hug or a meal or anything else.” says Julie K Silver, M.D.
It is understandable that even if we try to encourage these patients to undergo treatment and seek out help, they will genuinely ignore the advice. Some of them may not pay attention, and others can show no concern at all. But as concerned individuals, we have to become part of their journey. Instead of telling them how they should do things on their won, we have to walk them through their recovery. And the best way we can do that is by helping, not judging. We need to cut the stigma that keeps them away from asking professional help. We have to help them put an end to their unwanted feelings.
It is hard for patients with anal cancer to stay positive. That is especially when the social environment is not cooperating with their recovery. So instead of us becoming one of those negative people, we can try to become the accommodating ones. Who knows? Perhaps things will become a little different with these individuals when we show them that we can make a difference by just showing that we care.
“Some patients with late-stage cancer struggle to recognize that they are dying, but the family is desperate to have meaningful conversations about the dying process and fulfilling their loved one’s final wishes.” Jana Bolduan Lomax, PsyD says in an interview.