As most of you know, October is breast cancer awareness month. We all see the streets and stores filled with pink and quotes such as, “Save the Tata’s” are pinned on bracelets and t-shirts nationwide. Cancer and its treatments can take a huge toll on the body, and also on the mind. The psychological effects of cancer are nothing to ignore. Imagine that the doctor gives you 6-12 months to live and all of the sudden your whole life flashes before your eyes. Empathy is a real challenge for loved ones of the cancer patient, because often these loved ones are going through a struggle of their own. Just as cancer can spread through and take over a body, it has a way of spreading through a family system as well. Different people may react to the diagnosis differently. Some research shows that those who were in denial about their diagnosis and those with a positive attitude about treatment had more positive outcomes than those who continued to feel helpless or hopeless about their diagnosis. Some psychological effects of a cancer diagnosis can include depression, anxiety, and significant distress for the patient and the family members. Counseling is a great option for families and individuals dealing with a cancer diagnosis. It may be able to help promote a decrease in helplessness for the patient, and can encourage family members to play a supportive and empathetic role. For more information about the psychological effects of cancer and tips for family members visit the American Cancer Society’s link below.
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