skip to main content

Mind, Body and Side Effects

Finding relief from the five categories of cancer-related distress

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is stressful. No matter if your illness was caught early or is advanced, whether you live close to the hospital or hours away, or whether your treatment plan requires surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or all of the above, hearing the word cancer can change your life in profound ways.

What to Do About Cancer-Related Distress

Feeling anxious, sad or helpless? Having trouble concentrating, sleeping or completing everyday tasks? Worrying about family members, work or finances? Mental health professionals sum up troubles like these with one word: distress. Everyone with cancer feels some distress, and about half of patients with cancer will experience a significant level of distress at some point. Yet too often, cancer-related distress goes undiscussed and unaddressed.

Tips for Managing Scan Anxiety

Waiting for answers is never easy, but cancer patients know that waiting for scans, test results or health information can be so stressful that day-to-day life can be practically unbearable. Patients have coined the term “scanxiety” to capture the flavor of the experience.

New Tool Helps Patients Report Their Symptoms

The Remote Patient Monitoring Program for Chemotherapy Related Nausea at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center helps patients receiving high emetogenic treatment deal with the difficult side effects.

Finding the tools to stay grounded during cancer and treatment

The sheer impact of the word cancer carries many emotions, such as fear, shock and worry. It can be challenging to make sense of all the information and put some order to it. Donna Murphy, LMSW, director of Patient and Family Support Services at the Rogel Cancer Center, talks about the importance of emotional well-being during cancer treatment and where to turn to find it.

Guided imagery helps one patient find her footing during treatment

Sheron Williams was trying to cope with her breast cancer diagnosis and an inflammatory disease called sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is a chronic illness that impacts her liver, lungs, skin and requires portable oxygen. The stress of both of these issues sent her looking for help -- and she found it when she began using guided imagery.

How to Eat After Abdominal Surgery

If you are having major abdominal surgery including gynecologic, urologic or colorectal surgery, you may have some issues with eating afterward. Problems with digestion can arise due to the inflammatory response to intestinal manipulation and trauma during surgery. This may lead to more gas production when eating, which can be painful if you are unable to pass it or at the very least embarrassing if you can. In addition, some people can become nauseous or have diarrhea shortly after meals. This is just a sign that your stomach is feeling stressed with the burden of your meal and temporary adjustments will need to be made to ease that burden.

Treating Nerve Pain After Chemotherapy

Once cancer treatment ends, a challenging and lasting side effect can remain: peripheral neuropathy, a tingling feeling usually felt in the toes, feet, fingers and hands. For about 30 percent of breast cancer patients, peripheral neuropathy is a painful sensation. People treated for gastrointestinal, urologic and other cancers can also be affected.

Cancer and Anxiety: Wasted Time and Energy

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to situations with a perceived threat. As anyone with a cancer diagnosis knows, nothing threatens the balance of your day-to-day life more than cancer. Patients may struggle at the time of diagnosis, during treatment, waiting for test results or even after treatment ends when they’re faced with fears about recurrence.

Striving for Solutions

Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer or has a loved one with cancer understands the number of concerns it raises. Hearing “it’s cancer” brings forth big-picture worries about life and death, how to pay for treatment, telling family or friends and whether you’ll be healthy in the future. Then there are day-to-day concerns like how to get to treatment, coping with side effects and how to cook meals when you feel unwell. It’s a lot to deal with. Social workers understand and are here to help you get through it.