Mental and Emotional Health During and After Cancer Treatment

Virginia Cancer Specialists Practice Blog

August 29, 2019
Virginia Cancer Specialists » VCS Practice News » Blog Post » Mental and Emotional Health During and After Cancer Treatment

Physical, Mental and Emotional health together- are all a key part of “Survivorship”

 

You can eat healthy, exercise, and follow care instructions carefully—but if you don’t feel loved, valued, and supported, then you may need to focus more on the mental and emotional part of your journey.  At Virginia Cancer Specialists (VCS), we’re here to support you through the entire process because we believe in full-circle care.

Mental and emotional health are key parts of survivorship, which should extend from the moment of diagnosis to your life after treatment.  It should not be secondary to your physical health. Virginia Cancer Specialists is here to guide you through every step and provide valuable resources.

    • Find your purpose. Why are you choosing to pursue treatment?  Maybe it’s for yourself.  Maybe you’re fighting for your family, or a goal you want to achieve.  Maybe your purpose is spiritual or lies with a higher power.  Whatever it is, find it, hold onto it, and visualize positive things happening!  People with a defined purpose have much better outcomes!  Patients may find that having a defined purpose helps to guide them in their cancer care journey.
    • Be positive! You’ve probably heard this a million times, but it’s often repeated for a reason.  Hope might seem like it’s in short supply but now is a perfect time to change your way of thinking for the better.  Finding hope can help you through your entire cancer treatment—and beyond! Practice positivity by focusing on three things you are grateful for every morning, and three wins of the day before bedtime.  Write them down if you can!
    • Find your person—and your value. Chances are you’ve got a friend or family member who genuinely makes you feel valued and loved.  Maybe it’s even someone at VCS.  Reach out and let them know how you’re feeling and remind yourself how much you mean to others—and what they mean to you.  Find someone who will truly listen to your thoughts and feelings, and maybe share their own in return. Love yourself during this process and share your love with whoever is helping you get through it.
    • Turn difficulties into opportunities. Going through cancer can make you think about life and the way you’re choosing to live it—and that’s a good thing.  It’s a perfect opportunity to make sure you’re living your life in alignment with what is most important to you and maintaining or achieving better balance.  Do you need to adjust the amount of time you’re giving to yourself?  What about your family or your job?  Are you taking time for self-care?  Remember that everything is connected.  Look for patterns or behaviors that may tie things together.  Many imbalances rise from a single cause that you may not be aware of.  Take this time to better understand what motivates your decisions and if they align with your heart.
    • Love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s easier to make healthy choices when you’re cared for emotionally—and that starts with self-care, which is loving and appreciating your body and life simply for what it has provided you so far.
    • Slow progress is better than no progress. Wouldn’t it be great if we made a positive choice and saw immediate results?  While sometimes it works that way, it usually takes time to truly make a difference in your quality of life.  Work with your nurse navigator, nurse practitioner/ physician assistant or social worker at VCS to help you make actionable, positive changes in your way of thinking.

At VCS, our goal is to empower our patients to live healthier, more fulfilling lives. If some of these things seem too daunting to tackle by yourself, don’t worry. We work together with our oncologists, genetic specialists, therapists, and other experts to ensure you are receiving the best possible care from start to finish.  We can connect you to many services to supplement your treatment here at Virginia Cancer Specialists, including:

  • Social workers
  • Dieticians
  • Referrals to other experts in (such as acupuncture, Reiki and massage) as needed
  • Life Coach support

Our goal is to connect the entire care process and to empower our patients to best care for themselves during their treatment journey.  Let’s talk about your goals together. For more information on survivorship at VCS, please visit: https://virginiacancerspecialists.com/education/cancer-survivorship-goals-getting-back-life/

To learn more, you may want to check out the following resources:

  1. Are You Fully Charged? by Tom Rath
  2. Flourishing by Martin Seligman
  3. The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness by Emily Esfahani Smith
  4. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

*Please note these books should not be substituted for medical advice or treatment from your medical provider.