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In 2018, the National Cancer Institute reported 18.1 million new cancer diagnoses worldwide. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never easy. But no matter where you are on your cancer journey, there are people, resources and teams of health care professionals ready to help you. Cancer treatment is not just treating the malignant components of your diagnosis, but also tending to your physical and mental health needs.
Managing your Symptoms
Whether you or someone you know was recently diagnosed with cancer, adjusting to a cancer diagnosis takes time.
“Cancer treatment aims to kill cancer cells. Unfortunately, sometimes the medicines and treatments hurt healthy cells in the process, causing people undergoing treatment to feel ill or weak,” said Erev Tubb, MD, FACP medical oncologist, hematologist and medical director of Inspira’s Leading-Edge Cancer Center. Common side effects of cancer treatment include fatigue, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, appetite changes, constipation, mood changes, low platelet count and fluctuations in weight.
“If you or a loved one is experiencing treatment-related side effects, never hesitate to reach out to your health care team. Your physical health is crucial to your recovery, and oftentimes, adjustments can be made to your treatment plan to help mitigate some of those adverse side effects,” said Dr. Tubb.
- For changes in appetite: Eat smaller meals multiple times throughout the day. Call your care team if you cannot eat for more than a day or are unable to drink or maintain liquids.
- For issues with bleeding: Avoid sharp objects and hazardous activities. Call your care team if you’re bleeding from your mouth, nose or rectum and it looks like coffee grounds.
- For fatigue: Get plenty of rest and exercise to the best of your ability. Call your care team if you are unable to get out of bed for more than a day or have difficulty breathing.
Tuning into your Spiritual and Emotional Health
After receiving a cancer diagnosis, many people try to understand or rationalize why this experience happened to them. Sometimes, a cancer diagnosis depletes a person’s mental and emotional health.
In 2015, the National Center for Biotechnology Information Studies linked cancer patients rooted in religion—religious affiliation or service attendance—or spirituality—connection to a source larger than oneself—to a higher quality of physical health during their cancer treatment compared to cancer patients with weak emotional health. “Staying connected to your spiritual and emotional health is a key part of your cancer treatment, regardless of who and what you are faithful to,” said Dr. Tubb.
- For spiritual assistance: Try finding a spiritual counselor or spiritual support group. Spiritual Care services available to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of our patients. Convenient virtual options are available.
- For emotional support: Your patient navigator or social worker can connect you with Behavioral Health professionals who specialize in cancer or grief and has experience with the psychology behind a cancer diagnosis.
- For mental health needs: Know that therapy, support groups and/or medication management may help to alleviate mental or behavioral health struggles.
You are not alone. Inspira offers a variety of resources to cancer survivors including support groups, educational events and webinars, survivorship programs and more. For more information about resources and support for patients and caregivers, click here.