Social and emotional impact of cancer
As a survivor, you will face some psychological and emotional challenges – and these can show up immediately or even many years after treatment.
The good news is that you don’t have to suffer alone. Therapy, support groups, social media and community resources are available to help you cope with these issues.
The first step in coping is realising the problem and having the courage to ask for help.
Here are some of the most common issues that cancer survivors may face:
Fear of recurrence
Many survivors worry that their cancer will come back at some point. Anniversaries – for example, the anniversary of your diagnosis, can often trigger these feelings. Knowing your own body can help distinguish between normal physical changes and more serious symptoms that need to be reported to your doctor.
Grief is a natural result of loss. Loss can include changes in your appearance, your health, sex drive, fertility and physical independence. Support groups and counselling can help you work through these issues.
It’s estimated 70% of cancer survivors experience depression at some point. If you’re feeling depressed for long periods of time, there is support available. GenesisCare can connect you with a Psychologist, Counsellor or support group.
People who have experienced major changes in physical function can suffer from a lack of self-esteem. If you’re feeling down about your appearance, your desire for intimacy and social interaction can also be impacted. Honesty and open communication with loved ones can reduce these negative feelings.
Many people find that life takes on new meaning after cancer, and they often renew their commitment to spiritual practices or organised religion.
Research suggests that spirituality improves quality of life through a strong social support network, adaptive coping, lessened depression and better physiological function.
It’s normal to wonder why you survived cancer when others don't. If you suffer from a prolonged sense of guilt, seek help from a Psychologist, Counsellor or support group.
You may find that friends, co-workers and family members treat you differently after a cancer diagnosis.
They may be extremely supportive, and alternatively they may avoid you, or they may not want to discuss your cancer. Finding other people who have survived cancer and understand what you’ve been through can be very helpful.
You may feel like you can’t relate to co-workers who haven’t experienced cancer. It’s normal to feel reluctant to talk about your cancer treatment to employers or co-workers in case you’re worried about being treated differently. Your employer may have a support group or other connections to resources for people who have experienced cancer.