Yesterday was a big day: I submitted the draft of my upcoming presentation to the national convention of naturopathic physicians for peer review. I’m excited because I’ll be speaking on a topic I’m passionate about, and which I see as underrepresented in the discourse around cancer: emotional healing for survivors.
I continue to hear from cancer survivors that the end of treatment is the scariest point on their journey. The day of diagnosis is certainly hard; yet at that time, support immediately falls into place. As one survivor put it, “When treatment ends, everyone celebrates, you get your cupcake, and they all go home. You have no idea what you’re going to do next.”
Over the last decade or so, research backs up what survivors have known all along: anxiety and depression are rampant not only during cancer treatment, but long afterwards. Studies of survivors show that as many as 60% are experiencing mood disorders, with depression in up to 22%. 1,2
These rates significantly exceed those in the general population…and there isn’t necessarily great improvement over time. That’s a shame: not only because so many are suffering…but because chronic anxiety and depression can increase your risk of cancer recurrence.
What breaks my heart is that it doesn’t have to be that way. There is no reason that every survivor shouldn’t receive a comprehensive survivorship care plan. Not a piece of paper with dates of their treatment details to take to their primary care physician; a plan that includes specific recommendations for full recovery after treatment, implementing a powerful prevention plan (you wouldn’t believe how much is known about this that never reaches survivors), and – as importantly as anything else – healing the spirit.
And not just a plan – the loving support to see it through.
Creating that kind of support for survivors is why I can’t wait to get back to my office every morning. If you’re struggling with fear, anxiety or depression after cancer, please call or email me: I can help.
Tell me below:
- What have been the hardest parts of your cancer journey?
- What coping strategies have you found effective when you were feeling down?
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How cancer-proof are you?
Click here now to find out.
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1 Reich M, et al, Depression, quality of life and breast cancer: a review of the literature. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2008; 110: 9-17
2 Mehnert A, Koch U. Psychological comorbidity and health-related quality of life and its association with awareness, utilization, and need for psychosocial support in a cancer register-based sample of long-term breast cancer survivors. J Psychosom Res. 2008 Apr;64(4):383-91.