Britta’s Book at a Glance: Chapter 4, Emotional Coping
Though your doctors may be mainly concerned with how cancer affects your physical body, you need to know that cancer also greatly affects your emotional self. During treatment, you may experience a large range of emotions, from elation to depression and relief to despair and more.
You may have people around you encouraging you to “be positive,” or you may believe you have to squelch any negative emotions you may feel in order to put on a brave face.
In Chapter 4 of my book, When Cancer Hits, I tell you why “being positive” by itself could actually harm you on your way to recovery, and give you some real, practical tools you can use to deal with all the emotions cancer and cancer treatment may create.
Guilt Has No Room in Your Survival Plan
Did you find yourself feeling guilty after your diagnosis? Did you think that maybe if you had only eaten a healthier diet, or exercised more often, or reduced more stress, you wouldn’t have ended up with the disease? I help you face the guilt monster, stare it down, and cast it aside.
Faking Your Emotions Never Works
Do you find yourself trying to smile when you least feel like it? Do you feel pressured by family and friends to “be brave,” and “stay positive?” I felt some of these emotions when I went through Hodgkin’s disease at 16 years old, and I can tell you—squashing your emotions is bad for you. Not only do those emotions stay with you, they can actually reduce your body’s ability to fight off the cancer. (Studies have shown that repressing emotions makes you feel more physical pain and can affect your immune system.) I show you how to approach negative emotions in a healthy way, so you can more easily return to real positive emotions.
Tools to Help Accentuate the Positive
Have you ever made plans to make yourself feel good? If you haven’t, now is the time to start. Making plans to spend time with friends, enjoy a funny movie, get a nice massage, listen to your favorite music, and more are all extremely necessary while you’re going through cancer. You’ll be so busy with doctor appointments and medical records and insurance paperwork and the like that you’ll find things like just enjoying yourself can quickly slip out the window—yet they’re so necessary to your healing process! In Chapter 4, I give you all kinds of ideas for activities that help you process difficult emotions and find your way to feeling even just a little bit better.
Don’t be Afraid to Seek Help
Often we feel we have to be the brave soldiers and go through cancer alone. This decision is bad for your health, however, and dangerous to your recovery. You need support, and not just someone to help clean the house and make the meals. You need someone to talk to, someone who understands, and you need activities that really go to the core of what you’re experiencing. I show you how support groups can actually speed your healing; how music, art, and pet therapy can all be valuable tools in your recovery; and how counseling can be a lifesaver.
Learning the tools and skills you need to process and manage difficult emotions will not only help you navigate your cancer experience, but could be useful to you long after the cancer is in remission. I share with you some quotes from other survivors who learned a lot, emotionally, from their experiences, and help encourage you that with patience, you can get through whatever it is with courage and grace.
(When Cancer Hits is available now—click here.)
Have you experienced difficult emotions because of cancer or cancer treatments? Have you tried some of the tips in my book? Let me know what you think!