Coping With Mental Health Challanges
It is important that cancer survivors take care of their mental health. A few practices to maintain and improve the quality of life include:
Engaging in hobbies/interests that bring joy
Asking for and accepting social support
Getting enough sleep
Eating a healthy diet
Limiting alcohol and other substances
The importance of maintaining good mental health while going through cancer was once not considered a priority, as it was assumed depression was a normal response to the diagnosis. However, there has recently been a push by researchers to increase the funding of mental health research in cancer survivors as more studies show that mental health problems are not only common but also can affect the quality and quantity of life of those survivors. Mental health screenings during and after cancer treatment are increasingly becoming the standard when it comes to cancer survivorship.
Fear that the cancer will come back, or recur, is another source of distress for many survivors. People often feel especially anxious when they’re due for a scan or other follow-up medical visit—a feeling that some cancer survivors have dubbed “scanxiety.”“Scans are like revolving doors, emotional roulette wheels that spin us around for a few days and spit us out the other side,” wrote cancer survivor Bruce Feiler, in a June 2011 Time magazine article. “Land on red, we're in for another trip to Cancerland; land on black, we have a few more months of freedom.” Fear of recurrence is the most common emotional difficulty that people tell us they have after they’ve completed cancer treatment. And while a certain amount of anxiety is normal, for some survivors it can become debilitating.