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  SPIRITUAL DISTRESS & GERSON THERAPY
When people find out they have cancer, they often have feelings of disbelief, denial, or despair. They may also experience difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, anxiety, and a preoccupation with worries about the future.
Also read about psychological considerations, and this hopeful "what to do" list.

 
Coping with cancer: Spiritual distress, hope and the Gerson Therapy


Emotional issues: coping with fear, despair and grief

Surviving cancer is not strictly about healing your body and getting rid of the disease. It's also about managing your fears; coping with loss of control, independence and, in some cases, self-esteem; and learning to live with stress. It is about finding ways to empower yourself so that you are a survivor, not a victim.
You too can take control by learning about your disease, challenging things you don't understand, and taking an active role in your care. You can live a healthy lifestyle by eating well and exercising. And, you can try to understand and deal with the wide range of emotions that you are probably experiencing.

Your emotional well-being may not make or break your healing, but don't underestimate its role in the quality of your life. Take a minute to read about how managing stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle impact your healing.
All people will experience reactions of sadness and grief periodically throughout diagnosis, treatment, and survival of cancer. When people find out they have cancer, they often have feelings of disbelief, denial, or despair. They may also experience difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, anxiety, and a preoccupation with worries about the future. These symptoms and fears usually lessen as a person adjusts to the diagnosis. Signs that a person has adjusted to the diagnosis include an ability to maintain active involvement in daily life activities, and an ability to continue functioning as spouse, parent, employee, or other roles by incorporating treatment into his or her schedule. A person who cannot adjust to the diagnosis after a long period of time, and who loses interest in usual activities, may be depressed. Mild symptoms of depression can be distressing and may be helped with counseling. Even patients without obvious symptoms of depression may benefit from counseling; however, when symptoms are intense and long-lasting, or when they keep coming back, more intensive treatment is important.
Coping is the use of thoughts and behaviors to adjust to life situations. A person's coping style is usually related to his or her personality (for example, always expecting the best, always expecting the worst, being shy or reserved, or being outgoing).

Coping strategies are thoughts and behaviors that are used in rare situations, for example, when one must change his or her daily routine or work schedule to adjust to the side effects of cancer treatment. Developing coping strategies can help a patient learn how to change problem situations, manage emotional distress, and understand why cancer has happened and what impact cancer may have on his or her life. Patients who adjust well are usually committed and actively involved in coping with cancer. They are still able to find meaning and importance in their lives. Patients who do not adjust well become less involved with coping, withdraw, and feel hopeless.

Distress can occur when a person feels that he or she does not have the resources to manage or control the cancer.

Sadness and grief

Sadness and grief are normal reactions to the crises faced during cancer, and will be experienced at times by all people. Because sadness is common, it is important to distinguish between normal levels of sadness and depression. An important part of cancer care is the recognition of depression that needs to be treated. Some people may have more trouble adjusting to the diagnosis of cancer than others. Major depression is not simply sadness or a blue mood. Major depression affects about 25% of patients and has common symptoms that can be diagnosed and treated.

Mental: A positive attitude

A positive attitude is a crucial element of the healing process. It gives you a reason to rise in the morning and live your life as fully as your illness allows. A positive attitude quiets fear and brings hope.
Cancer is a major illness, but not everyone who gets cancer will die from it. Close to 9 million Americans alive today have a history of cancer. For them, cancer has become a chronic (on-going) health problem, like high blood pressure or diabetes.
If you have cancer, you may notice every ache, pain, or sign of illness. Even little aches may make you worry. While it is normal to think about dying and healthy to explore your feelings about death, it is also important to focus on living. Keep in mind that cancer is not a death sentence. Many people with cancer are treated successfully. Others will live a long time before dying from cancer. So, make the most of each day while living with cancer and its treatment

Spiritual and religious well-being may be associated with improved quality of life.

It is not known for sure how spirituality is related to health. Some research shows that spiritual or religious beliefs and practices promote a positive mental attitude that may help a patient feel better. Spiritual and religious well-being may be associated with improved quality of life in the following ways:

* Reduced anxiety, depression, and discomfort.
* Reduced sense of isolation (feeling alone).
* Better adjustment to the effects of cancer and its treatment.
* Increased ability to enjoy life during cancer treatment.
* A feeling of personal growth as a result of living with cancer.
* Improved health outcomes.

Spiritual distress may contribute to poorer health outcomes.

High levels of spiritual distress may interfere with the patient's ability to cope with cancer and cancer treatment and may contribute to poorer health outcomes. Health care providers may encourage patients to seek advice from appropriate spiritual or religious leaders to help resolve their conflicts, which may improve their health and ability to cope.

Meeting the Patient's Spiritual and Religious Needs

Spirituality and religion are very personal decisions. Patients can expect doctors and caregivers to respect their religious and spiritual beliefs and concerns. A cancer patient who relies on spirituality to cope with the disease may count on medical staff to respect that practice with support and referrals to appropriate spiritual or religious resources. Patients who do not choose to have spiritual issues addressed during cancer care may also count on medical staff to respect and support their views.

Doctors and caregivers will try to respond to their patients' concerns, but may avoid taking part in patients' religious rituals or debating religious beliefs. In addressing a patient's spiritual needs during cancer care, medical staff will take their lead from the wishes of the patient.

Normal Adjustment

Adjusting to cancer is an ongoing process in which the patient learns to cope with emotional distress, solve cancer-related problems, and gain control over cancer-related life events. Patients are faced with many challenges that change as the disease and its treatment change. Common periods of crisis and significant challenge include hearing the diagnosis, receiving treatment (for example, surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy), completing treatment, hearing that the cancer is in remission, hearing that the cancer has come back, and becoming a cancer survivor. Each of these events involves specific coping tasks, questions about life and death, and common emotional problems.

Patients are better able to adjust to a cancer diagnosis if they are able to continue fulfilling normal responsibilities, cope with emotional distress, and stay actively involved in activities that are meaningful and important to them.

Coping is the use of thoughts and behaviors to adjust to life situations. A person's coping style is usually related to his or her personality (for example, always expecting the best, always expecting the worst, being shy or reserved, or being outgoing).

Coping strategies are thoughts and behaviors that are used in rare situations, for example, when one must change his or her daily routine or work schedule to adjust to the side effects of cancer treatment. Developing coping strategies can help a patient learn how to change problem situations, manage emotional distress, and understand why cancer has happened and what impact cancer may have on his or her life. Patients who adjust well are usually committed and actively involved in coping with cancer. They are still able to find meaning and importance in their lives. Patients who do not adjust well become less involved with coping, withdraw, and feel hopeless.

Distress can occur when a person feels that he or she does not have the resources to manage or control the cancer. Distress experienced by patients who have the same diagnosis and are undergoing the same treatment may be very different.

General Factors Influencing Adjustment

Many individual differences affect how a patient adjusts to cancer. It is difficult to predict how a person will cope with cancer. The following factors influence how a patient adjusts to cancer:

* The type of cancer, cancer stage, and chance of recovery.
* The phase of cancer such as newly diagnosed, being treated, in remission, or recurrent cancer.
* Individual coping abilities.
* Friends and family available to support the patient.
* The patient's age.
* The availability of treatment.
* Beliefs about the cause of cancer.

Hearing the Diagnosis

The process of adjusting to cancer can begin even before hearing the diagnosis. Patients may experience normal levels of fear, worry, and concern when they have unexplained symptoms or are undergoing testing to determine if they have cancer. When a patient hears the diagnosis of cancer, many patients wonder, "Could I die from this?"

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer can cause expected and normal emotional distress. Some patients may feel disbelief and ask, "Are you sure you have the right test results?" Most patients feel they are unable to think clearly. They may feel numb or in shock, or as if "This can't be happening to me." Many patients may not understand or remember important information that the doctor gave them about the diagnosis and treatment options. Patients should have a way to review this information by having someone with them at appointments, requesting that the session be taped, or by requesting a second appointment to ask the doctor questions and go over the treatment plan. As the patient gradually accepts the reality of the diagnosis, he or she may begin to experience depression, anxiety, lack of appetite, inability to sleep, poor concentration, and varying degrees of inability to function in daily activities. When the patient receives and understands information about treatment options he or she may gradually feel more hopeful



Also read about Psychological Considerations in Gerson Therapy
And about what to do, what steps to take if you have cancer.

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Note: Part of the text from www.cancer.gov



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