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Cancerhead | Coping with Gynecologic (GYN) Cancer Fears

From the GYN Cancer Articles List

Woman wanting to know how to cope with CancerheadI've been diagnosed with cancer. Now I can't stop thinking about it. I'm obsessing over every little twinge. How do I cope with "Cancerhead"?

Any woman receiving a cancer diagnosis is likely to experience a wide range of fears starting with "what if . . ." These "what-ifs" have a name—cancerhead. The best defense against these fears is accurate information. Although it may be difficult to imagine living with cancer, it is possible to learn to cope with the inevitable fears that accompany this disease.

Throughout your journey, remember that you are not alone. Fear, anxiety, depression, anger, and sadness are all common emotions for women who are diagnosed with cancer. The Cancer Concerns Forum is a huge resource for support and encouragement.

The coping process usually moves through several phases:
  1. Denial – There must be some mistake.
  2. Anger – Why are you telling me this?
  3. Why me? – What did I do, or not do, to deserve this?
  4. Resignation – I can’t help myself; it’s beyond my control.
  5. Acceptance – I will fight this with everything I’ve got in me.

Fighting these various stages may be an emotional roller coaster. Knowing that they're normal won't make them much easier, but it may help you reflect and recognize where you are along the process.

Even beating cancer doesn't automatically cure cancerhead. Cancer survivors know that cancerhead can come knocking at the door at any time. Women undergoing radiation treatments or chemotherapy must conquer new fears of the unknown. Waiting for test results is particularly stressful. Simple aches and pains or symptoms of any common illness can lead to fear that it must be cancer.

Even though cancerhead cannot be entirely eliminated, it can be minimized. Below are some suggestions that may prove helpful:
  1. Find a doctor who communicates with you in a way that is comfortable for you, invites your questions and takes your concerns seriously, and gives you as much or as little information as you feel comfortable with at any given moment.

  2. Find out what to expect (from tests, procedures, treatments). Minimize surprises.

  3. Make plans with your doctor about how to receive test results in a prompt way. If possible, try to schedule important tests early in the week, so you don't have to wait over a long weekend when lab work may slow down or doctors aren't communicating with each other.

  4. When you know you're going to have a challenging week (a test coming up or a round of chemotherapy), don't plan to do things that are stressful for you (balance the checkbook? make Thanksgiving dinner for twenty? run a big meeting at work?). Use your support systems—friends, movies, prayer, biofeedback—to help you get through it.

  5. If well-meaning people try to tell you stories about others struggling with cancer, stop them RIGHT AWAY and say: "I only listen to stories with happy endings!"

  6. If you reach a point where difficult emotions are getting in the way of your functioning or taking care of yourself, speak with your doctor about the role of medications that might help ease your anxiety, depression, or sleeping problems.

  7. Join a support group—a place to share your cancer experience openly with people who understand. Do whatever makes you feel connected to others in a positive way, as a woman who is moving beyond cancer.

  8. Work on ways to feel more positive about your life: Seek out productive, life-enhancing experiences; accept yourself for who you are; and spend time with positive people who affirm who you are and how you've chosen to deal with this disease.

Remember that having bad feelings and down days is normal. The key is to keep a positive attitude. The more you keep a positive attitude, the more you will be able to enjoy your good days.

This content was written by a member of HysterSisters.com as a non-medical professional based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

02-25-2008 - 04:31 PM


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