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Coping with Emotional Stress During Cancer Treatment

February 8, 2023

Cancer is one of the most difficult things a person can experience. Not only is there the physical pain of the disease and the treatments, but there is also the emotional toll it can take. As a cancer patient, it is important to understand how to cope with emotional stress during treatment. This article will provide an overview of managing stress and better understanding your emotions. 


Understanding How Emotional Stress Affects Cancer Patients


Responses to a cancer diagnosis vary, and can potentially result in unhealthy behaviors. Patients may smoke tobacco, overeat, become less active, or drink alcohol to cope.


Your body may choose emotional stress to respond to a real or imagined threat. It differs from anxiety by going away when the threat disappears. Both conditions may present symptoms.


  • insomnia
  • excessive worry
  • emotional discomfort
  • tension
  • aches and pains
  • elevated blood pressure


Stress management may help you avoid developing anxiety that can interfere with how you live your life.


Laboratory studies show that chronic cancer stress may worsen the condition and spread. In addition, the studies indicate that it may cause the body to release hormones that increase resistance to chemotherapy, preventing your immune system from fighting cancer cells.


Identifying the Causes of Emotional Stress During Treatments


A mix of emotions can make it difficult for cancer patients to manage stress. An encounter with an entirely new and unexpected challenge to your health can nearly knock you over with the challenge of facing both cancer and stress simultaneously. Accepting cancer can make you wonder about what the future holds for you and your loved ones. Treatments may make you feel tired or sick, both unpleasant experiences to endure.


Your doctor may require you to make frequent visits to a hospital to get the care that can return you to health, inconvenient as they may seem sometimes. In addition, stress from cancer may cause you to experience some physical changes that concern you.


Even as the physical aspects of coping with cancer occur, you may expect the hurdle of dealing with cancer emotionally. In addition, your health condition may make you unable to work, creating potential financial concerns. Emotional stress may occur as you begin to feel a loss of control in running your life, and it may create pressure in your relationships with others.


Learning How People Cope with Emotional Stress During Cancer Treatment


Here are some ways to cope with stress and cancer that may suit your preferences and abilities.


  • Social Support: Spending time with others may lower the level of hormones that promote the progression of some tumors.


  • Moderate-Intensity Physical Activity: Participating in exercise during and after treatments can lower your anxiety and symptoms of depression.


  • Talk Therapy: Contact with a trained mental health professional may assist in the process of dealing with cancer emotionally.


The Benefits of Joining a Support Group During Treatment


Finding a group you feel comfortable joining may give you the emotional support to help you through the rough moments. While it’s inevitable that your family will want to help in every way possible, the people you meet in a support group have the same experiences you deal with daily. Here are some benefits that you may consider worth receiving.


  • prevents feelings of loneliness
  • promotes accepting cancer as a realistic option
  • invites conversation about your feelings
  • opens a forum for sharing your problems
  • provides an exchange of treatment information
  • promotes calmness during treatment


You may find a support group near you when you start looking for one. Meetings in hospitals, community centers, libraries, and schools may offer convenient locations you should have noticed.


  • While at treatment, ask other patients for references to groups.


  • Ask a social worker to help you find a support group for certain types of cancer.


  • Check with the hospital where you get treatment for the names of cancer support programs.


No one expects coping with cancer to come easily. However, others who share your experience can provide the cancer emotional support that you need. Your progress offers a bond you can share with others who deal with your challenges.


Choosing the Lasting Benefits of Managing Emotional Stress During Treatment


The stress you endure during cancer treatment goes away when you resolve the issue. However, unmanaged stress can lead to anxiety, a condition that can threaten your health. You can receive the benefit of reducing your symptoms of depression, relief that can enhance your joy of living. You can find many fellow travelers on your path to becoming a cancer survivor. Companionship with them may help you along the way.