Healthy mind, healthy body
by Eric Metcalf
Let’s face it: Cancer can be a scary disease. It will strike more than 1.6 million Americans this year. Cancer is one of the most common causes of death, and surviving it often means going through difficult treatments.
But whether you’re healthy and worried about the possibility of cancer, or you’ve been diagnosed with the disease, it’s possible to live your life with less cancer-related fear. Here’s how to release it:
Shift your attention
If cancer is on your mind, it’s tempting to feel yourself for lumps and bumps or go online to look up symptoms you think you have. But once you get started down these roads, you may have trouble stopping. Try to avoid monitoring yourself for symptoms, and keep your health-related searches on the Internet brief and focused.
Work with your doctor
It’s important to find a doctor whose judgment you trust. Discuss your cancer risk with your doctor and set up a schedule of regular checkups that will help your doctor keep sufficient tabs on your health. If you’re concerned about cancer but have never had the disease, let your doctor know. She may be able to provide some insight and advice that calms your nerves.
Talk it out
When you’re going through cancer treatment or you’ve survived cancer, it’s normal to feel worried or even extremely anxious. You may have a fear of dying; of the discomfort from surgery, chemotherapy or other treatment; or of your cancer returning. Some people close themselves off in these situations and keep their concerns bottled up. Instead, try to let these feelings out.
You may find it helpful to talk about different concerns with different people, such as:
- Your family
- A cancer support group
- A religious or spiritual advisor
Visit a mental healthcare provider
A psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist can be a valuable resource when you’re fighting cancer. Some of these experts specialize in helping people who are going through a serious health problem. Consider making one or more visits to a mental health expert when you’re dealing with cancer. Talking about your concerns may be all the help you need, or the provider may recommend or prescribe medication to help control your anxiety.
Channel your energy
Devote some of your cancer-related effort to protecting your health. Take steps to help keep the disease from striking or returning, such as quitting smoking, losing excess weight, starting a regular exercise plan, and eating more fruits and vegetables. Take time to reflect on occasion how your efforts may be helping to reduce the impact of cancer on your life.
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