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Cancer: Psychological Effects and Coping Strategies Essay

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Updated: May 29th, 2021

Cancer is one of the most serious illnesses that cause a lot of suffering to people diagnosed with this disease. Pain is the most disturbing symptom that leads to the development of other psychological issues (Tanner, 2015). Cancer patients often have depression and anxiety; they lose hope and courage to continue their struggle. At the same time, some types of cancer are associated with quite specific psychological problems. For example, ovarian cancer makes females suffer due to their possible childless future (Bristow & Montz, 2015). All these psychological issues harm the healing process. Fortunately, many strategies help females cope with these problems. This paper includes an analysis of psychological problems and coping strategies associated with ovarian cancer based on personal experience.

Maria and Psychological Problems She Has to Face

My sister, Maria, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017 and she started chemotherapy that year. She is in her 30s, so she, as well as her family, could not expect such a diagnosis. Her health conditions were quite serious, so Maria was sent to Singapore where doctors were optimistic about Maria’s chances to recover. As for the psychological problems Maria has to face, these have been mainly fatalism and depression. Cohen (2016) states that fatalism is widespread among Arab women. Maria was also prone to fatalism, and she thought that her illness was the punishment for some behavior or deeds. Such ideas make her less open and willing to share with her family. Since Maria used to be open and eager to share, her present state causes a lot of distress. The fact that she has to be far from home contributes to the development of depressive symptoms.

Coping Strategies

It is acknowledged that family members and friends often help in coping with many psychological problems (Anastasia, 2015). Although Maria is far from her family, she still has a chance to communicate with her close ones. Of course, digital communication is not equal to face-to-face contact, but there is still socializing that distracts Maria from sad thoughts. Mosher, Ott, Hanna, Jalal, and Champion (2014) also stress that religion is a strong instrument that can help cancer patients. Maria can be regarded as an illustration of the positive effect of religious beliefs on people’s health. She is often happy after a pray and is willing to discuss some religious aspects. However, her mood can change quite quickly when negative ideas, including her thoughts about punishment and possible death, come to her mind. Therefore, her relatives and friends always try to discuss only positive aspects of life.

In Singapore, Maria had to receive chemotherapy, but she also got other types of therapy. For example, she learned about the benefits of art therapy. Archer, Buxton, and Sheffield (2014) state that dancing and creative arts have a positive impact on cancer patients’ psychological well-being. However, this type of treatment had no effect on patients’ physical states. However, Maria stresses that art is the most effective coping strategy. Although she still feels pain or has many symptoms related to chemotherapy, she forgets about these problems when she is creating something.

Conclusion

On balance, it is necessary to note that cancer is a serious health problem that affects millions of people. Besides, women undergoing chemotherapy may develop a negative attitude towards the changes that take place in their bodies. There are many effective methods to cope with this health issue. Nevertheless, social ties have proved to be essential. Cancer patients need their close ones’ support. These people need to focus on the bright side of their life.

References

Anastasia, P. J. (2015). Taking care of social needs. In R. E. Bristow,‎ T. L. Cornelison,‎ & F. J. Montz (Eds.), A guide to survivorship for women who have ovarian cancer (pp. 191-197). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Archer, S., Buxton, S., & Sheffield, D. (2014). The effect of creative psychological interventions on psychological outcomes for adult cancer patients: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Psycho-Oncology, 24(1), 1-10.

Bristow, R. E., & Montz, F. J. (2015). Surgery for ovarian cancer. In R. E. Bristow,‎ T. L. Cornelison,‎ & F. J. Montz (Eds.), A guide to survivorship for women who have ovarian cancer (pp. 23-45). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Cohen, M. (2016). Cancer fatalism: Attitudes toward screening and care. In B. I. Carr & J. Steel (Eds.), Psychological aspects of cancer (pp. 83-100). Philadelphia, PA: Springer US.

Mosher, C., Ott, M., Hanna, N., Jalal, S., & Champion, V. (2014). Coping with physical and psychological symptoms: A qualitative study of advanced lung cancer patients and their family caregivers. Supportive Care in Cancer, 23(7), 2053-2060.

Tanner, E. (2015). Controlling pain and suffering. In R. E. Bristow,‎ T. L. Cornelison,‎ & F. J. Montz (Eds.), A guide to survivorship for women who have ovarian cancer (pp. 122-137). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Cancer: Psychological Effects and Coping Strategies." May 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cancer-psychological-effects-and-coping-strategies/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Cancer: Psychological Effects and Coping Strategies'. 29 May.

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