Information for Patients and Caregivers
Coping with Cancer:
Strategies for Survivors and their Families
A cancer survivor is anyone
who has ever been diagnosed with cancer
and is alive today, including those with
a new diagnosis and long-term survivors.
"Coping" is a way to deal with stress
by changing your thoughts or feelings
or by changing your own behavior. Coping
helps to avoid or reduce the negative
impact of an illness such as cancer. Listed
here are coping strategies that are helpful
for cancer patients and their families.
People with cancer often feel
scared, isolated, or even awkward in social
situations. Those with cancer and those
who are providing care for a family member
with cancer often withdraw from their
social circle. Be sure to call people
and to maintain contact with friends and
other family members.
is not denial or repression, nor is it
being absent-minded. Instead, distraction
is a deliberate way to temporarily take
your mind off the situation at hand. Reading
a good book or renting a favorite movie
can help to relieve stress.
Pent up feelings can make
us feel physically or emotionally worse,
so it helps to find a good listener to
share our thoughts and feelings with.
is good medicine! Indulge yourself and
go to a local bookstore or library to
pick up a book of jokes or humorous stories.
Lewis Grizzard's books, for example, are
Praying is a great comfort and
can help relax the mind and body. Meditation
can be prayer or simply quiet time to
reflect and mentally relax.
Watching how other survivors and families
cope can greatly help. Having a "model"
can be a very positive experience. Support
groups provide a place to share your experiences
Keeping a journal:
Journals can provide a private place to
express your feelings and allow you to
express yourself creatively. Writing,
drawing, and sketching are all pleasurable
and relaxing activities.
to look forward to everyday, whether it
be big or small: Having a goal
or event to focus on can be a positive
experience and will help you to face the
Forster, C. (1996). Coping with
cancer: Effective strategies for survivors.
Coping(May/June), 24-25. Image
borrowed from: When someone in your family
has cancer. (1992). National
Institute of Health, No. 92-2685.