Coping with Pancreatic Cancer
It is very common to have a full range of difficult emotions throughout an illness. Some emotions related to being diagnosed with cancer are shock, disbelief, fear, anxiety, guilt, sadness, loneliness, depression, grief, anger and uncertainty about the future. These feelings may come and go and it is important to remember they are normal. Your family members and friends may also experience similar emotions.
Your Frame of Mind Matters
You may not be prepared for the unique stresses caused by cancer, and will need to try new ways of handling your emotions, thought processes and behaviors. Talk with other people about your feelings, write in a journal and find quiet time to reflect.
Understanding that you have some control over your situation will make things easier. Learning about pancreatic cancer will enable you to understand your choices and make informed decisions. It is important to focus on things you can change, rather than things out of your control.
It may be difficult to maintain hope when you are ill and worried. However, keeping an optimistic outlook often provides the motivation to follow medical advice and take care of your physical, mental and emotional needs.
Depression is common in patients with pancreatic cancer, but you should not have to suffer. Let your healthcare team know about your symptoms and consider seeking out a mental health professional. Effective medications and other methods to treat depression are available.
Developing a Support System
Reach out to family and friends for emotional support to help you cope with your cancer diagnosis and treatment. If you need it, ask for help with daily activities such as running errands and assisting with household tasks.
Join an online or in-person support group, such as Pancreatic Cancer Connections, a free, safe space for pancreatic cancer patients and their loved ones to share their experiences, get valuable coping resources and support one another. Connecting with others who have cancer will help you to not feel isolated. Finding a community that understands what you are going through will validate your feelings and benefit you in immeasurable ways.
Remember that members of your healthcare team are also part of your support system. It is important to contact your healthcare team and discuss anything related to your cancer and how you are dealing with it. They will provide suggestions about social workers, nutritionists and other therapists to help you cope.