Tags: Health Topics | Anxiety | Cancer | Depression | coping | sadness | alex trebek

Experts: How to Deal With a Cancer Diagnosis

a girl dances while taking in a chemotherapy session
Liu Zinian, 7, who was diagnosed with malignant lymphoma, performs as she makes live streaming webcast show on a smartphone at her hospital ward to raise money for her treatment. (Wu Fang/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 02 May 2019 10:00 PM

Almost half of all men and a third of all women in the United States will receive a cancer diagnosis at some time in their lives, and often it comes without warning. Hearing the news can trigger a wide gamut of emotions. For example, beloved game show host Alex Trebek bared his soul to Robin Roberts on ABC's "Good Morning America," sharing with the fellow cancer survivor his deep feelings of sadness.

"My oncologist says I am doing well even though I don't always feel it. I've had kidney stones, ruptured discs, so I'm used to dealing with pain," the 78-year-old "Jeopardy!" host revealed during their interview. "What I am not used to is dealing with the surges that come on suddenly of deep, deep sadness, and it brings tears to my eye."

Trebek has vowed to beat his deadly disease, diagnosed as stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and Dr. Hermann Kattlove, a Los Angeles based oncologist and former spokesperson for the Americans Cancer Society, tells Newsmax his stalwart stance is one of three main reactions he has seen in his career.

"There are fighters like Trebek who have had a good life and want to hold on as long as possible or who are natural fighters and will never give in to any possible loss without a fight," he said. "They may also have strong family connections and want to hang on as long as possible.

"A second group, I call them 'non-fighters,' include many who have been beaten down by life, often depressed, and would rather choose comfort measures than aggressive chemotherapy. Also in this group are people who have enjoyed a satisfying life and don't see the point in aggressive therapy in order to buy a few extra months.

"There are also the religious folks who say, 'If God wants to take me now, that's OK.' Everyone has their own way of coping with the disease and its often-harsh treatment."

According to the National Cancer Institute, just as cancer affects your physical health, it can also bring up a wide range of feelings that you are not used to dealing with. And like Trebek's "deep sadness," they can become intense.

Many patients report feeling overwhelmed, angry, afraid, and anxious when they are diagnosed. Some suffer from sadness and depression, guilt, and loneliness. Still others see their cancer as a wakeup call, finally realizing the importance of enjoying the little things in life, say the experts at the NCI.

Their advice on dealing with these sudden new emotions are to:

  • Express your feelings. People who express strong feelings like anger or sadness are more able to let them go.
  • Look for the positive. Try to use your energy to focus on wellness.
  • Don't blame yourself for your cancer. Scientists do not know why some people get cancer and others do not.
  • Do not try to be upbeat if you are not. It is important to give into your feelings.
  • You choose when you want to talk about cancer. Loved ones often do not know what to say or how to broach the subject. You steer the conversation.
  • Find ways to help you relax. Find activities that help you unwind. Many cancer patients feel better with acupuncture, meditation, and guided imagery.
  • Be as active as you can. Cancer patients who make an effort to get out of the house and focus on other things besides their illness tend to feel better.
  • Look at what you can control. While living with a diagnosis of cancer can make you feel out of control, patients who take charge of their health appointments, environment, and keep a daily schedule say they feel more in charge of their lives.

© 2019 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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Almost half of all men and a third of all women in the United States will receive a cancer diagnosis at some time in their lives, and often it comes without warning.
coping, sadness, alex trebek, diagnosis, national cancer institute
Thursday, 02 May 2019 10:00 PM
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