7 Ways Therapy Can Help You if You’ve Been Diagnosed With Cancer

You’ve been told you have cancer. You’re probably feeling some combination of anxiety, sadness, anger, and grief. You’re overwhelmed with what to do next. Maybe you’re Googling symptoms and treatments and trying to stay calm. Or maybe you’re worried that this means the end of your life.

There’s no doubt that a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most tumultuous experiences someone endures. Therapy offers support and guidance during this vulnerable time. While it doesn’t fix the discomfort associated with cancer, it can be a valuable asset for your emotional well-being, coping skills, and overall quality of life.

Adjustment to Your Cancer Diagnosis

Most people experience a significant range of emotions after receiving their diagnosis, which may include anxiety, sadness, anger, and even shock. It’s normal to cycle through these feelings, and it’s also normal to worry about burdening family and friends.

It’s important to feel supported during this time. Undergoing cancer treatment requires significant lifestyle changes, and it may entail complicated treatment regimens. Therapy can help you cope with the common concerns associated with treatment, such as scheduling various appointments, managing side effects, and coping with changes in your everyday routine.

Therapy can also offer practical guidance for making informed medical decisions and expressing your needs to your healthcare providers.

Emotional Support

Cancer undoubtedly impacts both your physical and mental health. Therapy does not fix these intense emotions, but it offers a supportive space where you can express how you feel without judgment.

In therapy, emotional support may include processing past and current emotions. It may also entail simply having a space where you can vent your frustrations or talk about what you need from others. There’s no pressure to act a certain way, and you’re encouraged to come exactly as you are.

Acknowledging Existential Concerns

Managing any serious illness can trigger an immense fear of death. Cancer, in particular, often raises significant existential dread about mortality, purpose, meaning, and relationships. In therapy, you can safely talk about and explore such existential concerns.

Many people with cancer also struggle with the loss of control associated with being sick. In many ways, cancer disrupts someone’s control over their health, body, and overall well-being. This can lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness, and it can be hard to stay grounded or positive when that happens.

Cancer Survivorship Support and Meaning

Cancer patients often look forward to the relief associated with being in remission from cancer. But many people still experience numerous challenges related to their survivorship. There may be a sense of guilt about surviving (especially if you’ve lost people to cancer), fear about cancer coming back, or other logistical adjustments related to your financial, emotional, or physical well-being.

Legacy Work

Therapy offers a supportive environment to process and reflect on certain life experiences, values, and other emotional concerns. Some therapists call this ‘legacy work,’ and it can support people find a sense of closure and leave a more meaningful impression on their loved ones. This kind of therapy tends to be most beneficial in the later stages of terminal illness or hospice care.

Connecting to Other Support Options

Having support is one of the most important parts of navigating cancer. Your hospital may have access to oncology social workers or other mental health specialists who can connect you with local resources, including free counseling, group counseling, and family support.

In addition, many people benefit from joining cancer support groups. These groups allow you to connect to other people with cancer, which can provide a sense of camaraderie and emotional safety. Individual therapy is just one branch of support, but it can be a starting point for connecting with other people.

Family Issues and Relationships

Cancer affects entire family systems, as roles often need to be redefined within the home. Each person may also react to your diagnosis differently, and you may note how certain relationships shift- you may become closer to some people and more distant to others.

It can be challenging when family members aren’t supportive, or when relationship issues arise during this time. Some people find that family counseling profoundly helps address such problems. Others can benefit from individual therapy or counseling services to process their emotional needs.

Working With a Cancer Therapist to Improve Your Mental Health

Cancer can take a tremendous toll on your mental health and daily life. Adjusting to your diagnosis can be difficult, even if the prognosis for recovery is positive. In addition, if you have preexisting mental health concerns, medical problems may exacerbate certain symptoms.

There is often a profound sense of grief associated with cancer, and therapy can offer support as you navigate those complex emotions. You or your loved one don’t have to walk this path alone. I am here to offer compassion, relief, and practical tools to help you cope. Contact me today to schedule a consultation.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759

(512) 988-3363

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