Psycho-Oncology with Dr Gregory Garber Download

29:54 Download July 2nd

Dr Gregory Garber, Administrative Director for the Division of Supportive Oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health, discusses mental health, yours and your care circle’s, at and after a cancer diagnosis. 

Dr. Garber talks about how you cope with cancer, during and after treatment, has a big impact on your mental health, and should be part of your overall care plan.  He discussed the National Institute of Health 2007 mandate adding the psycho-social aspects of a cancer diagnosis within their proscribed treatment.  

We discussed ‘attitude’ and patient outcomes and that, generally speaking, your personality and coping ability will not change with a diagnosis of cancer. 

Can your attitude affect your outcome?  He notes, despite popular belief, research has been inconclusive. “There is really no good evidence that one’s attitude impacts how long they’re going to live after a cancer diagnosis or what their response to treatment will be.” 

If you were a gloomy person before your illness, you’ll come through just as morose.  If you are perpetually perky with a sunny disposition, you’ll take your bad news and treatment with the same cheerful outlook. “There are entirely miserable people who go through breast cancer or any kind of cancer treatment, and they do fine,” he continued.  “And, there are wonderful Pollyanna folk who go through it and do fine.”   

What IS affected by attitude is your quality of life during the treatment.  That’s where your personality and coping skills can make a difference in how you do. 

Learn to recognize your ‘triggers’ – the situations that cause you stress, then experiment and combine coping methods to find what works best for you.  Prioritizing your needs and time by making a schedule can help you feel less overwhelmed by the demands on your limited energy.  Take a break for deep breathing, meditation and gradual muscle relaxation.  Get back to daily exercise, as soon as you can, doing what you can. 

Eating well and getting enough sleep have a huge impact on your mental well-being.  While it can be rough during cancer therapy, making the effort then will make it easier to follow good habits after treatment has ended.  

Finally, talk to someone. 
If it’s affecting your relationships or your ability to work or parent, your ability to sleep or enjoy your daily activities, call your healthcare provider, or reach out to the America Cancer Society, they offer free online groups for patients with different diagnosis and at different points of treatment. 
The National Institute of Health, NAMI and Living Beyond Breast Cancer also offer peer-based support.  

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