The first few months of radiation therapy can be a whirlwind. Your day-to-day life may look completely different compared to pre-diagnosis. You may also be coping with a host of unprecedented challenges.
Luckily, there are ways to find a new “normal” and adjust to life with cancer.
In this blog, we consult Tammy Weitzman, founder of the Center for Loss and Grief Counseling in Charlotte. Building on 22 years of experience working in cancer centers across North America, Weitzman examines the ways cancer can impact your:
- Emotional wellness
- Social wellness
- Intellectual wellness
- Financial wellness
- Marital wellness
- Family wellness
Weitzman also offers specific, concrete tips for acclimating to life with cancer. These tips will improve your quality of life and help you focus on what matters most: recovery.
How Life With Cancer Can Impact Your Social Wellness
After sharing your diagnosis, some loved ones may become obsessively involved in your cancer journey while others cut ties altogether².
According to Weitzman, these extreme reactions stem from “fear and confusion.”
“People in the life of a person with cancer often don’t know what to say,” she explains.
But rather than be open and honest – admitting that they’re at a loss for words – loved ones may engage in unhelpful, toxic behavior.
Other social changes you may notice in the wake of a cancer diagnosis include:
Tips for Coping With Social Changes
Cancer is a very isolating disease, with over half of oncology patients reporting feelings of loneliness³.
Though you cannot control how your friends and family react to your diagnosis, you can take steps to protect yourself from social isolation.
Tip #1: Join a Support Group
During the first few months of cancer treatment, many patients tend to “withdraw from others and activities,” says Weitzman.
Support groups can dramatically improve your quality of life by providing a safe, nurturing space where you can connect with people who understand what you’re going through⁴.
Tip #2: Ask For Help
According to Weitzman, it can be hard for cancer patients to ask for help, especially since “our culture values self-sufficiency and individuality in solving one’s own problems.”
But letting loved ones know what you need gives them the opportunity to feel useful. This can ease some of the awkwardness and tension.