Being a cancer patient requires courage and strength. The diagnosis can be confronting and the treatment is gruelling. Within no time, your life turns upside down and attending medical appointments, scans and hospitals becomes a full time occupation. You get confronted with a whole new language and set of terms that will have all sorts of implications for your mind, body and life in general. In addition to the diagnosis, the treatments that are currently available often have a profound impact on your overall wellbeing and functioning. Fatigue, anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, insomnia, and sickness are common side effects that also need to be managed. In addition to this, your sex drive and capacity for intimacy is also implicated. Combined, this can put pressure on the relationships we have with ourselves and our loved ones. Cancer counselling might really help.
Being a partner, family member, or friend to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer can also be a scary and unpredictable time. Not only is it hard watching someone you love suffer, but it can be all consuming. Remembering to take care of yourself is critical, but so easily missed with all the other demands and appointments that can take priority. This might be sustainable for a little while, but cancer treatments are often long and the after-effects can take months if not years to recover from. Carer fatigue is real and needs to be taken seriously. If not, the tiredness and worries can come out sideways and cause misunderstandings in your relationships.
Why see a psychologist for cancer counselling?
Chemotherapy and radiation can cause major changes to the way our bodies and mind operate. Teasing out what is causing what is not easy, and can get harder as time goes on. If we have a history of things like anxiety and depression pre-treatment, it can be exacerbated with the cancer diagnosis. Similarly, there might be things that we have avoided or ignored for years, which start to bubble out during those moments when we are at our weakest and most vulnerable. Having a psychologist as part of the treatment team can therefore be really helpful to manage things like:
- Anxiety and Panic
- Grief, Loss and Sadness
- Adjustment to life as a ‘patient’
- Fatigue, sleeping difficulties, and other lifestyle changes that happen with treatment
- Relationship conflicts
- Other issues that arise with cancer and treatment like pain, nausea, and other physical symptoms
- Shifts in identity and roles
- Avoidance and withdrawal
- Expectations of self and others during treatment
- Body image issues and self-esteem that can be triggered with treatment
- And so much more…
What is Online therapy?
Until COVID-19, many of us never thought about seeing medical professionals or therapists online or via the phone. Over the past few years, this service modality has exploded and there is now so much research to suggest that working in this way is just as effective and helpful as face-to-face contact. As a cancer patient, this might be a relief because appointment fatigue and travel demands can be just another problem to solve and overcome when going through treatment. It also means that on the days where leaving the house just feels like an overwhelming task, you can still get professional support.
How do I book an appointment?
Our team is available to answer any questions that you or your loved ones might have. You are welcome to call reception on (02) 6693 2112 or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. If referred by a GP, you are eligible for a Medicare rebate for up to 20 sessions each calendar year.
Cassandra Burford is our psychologist passionate about working with patients diagnosed with cancer and other blood disorders, and has spent most of her career working in hospital settings. She is currently taking new patients and would be honoured to help.