Psychological support influences cancer treatment
Clinical Psychologist Aslıhan Kurt, who said that cancer patients experience a great shock at the diagnosis stage, said, “Informing the patient correctly about cancer and its treatment at this stage has a very important function. When patients start chemotherapy, they are in great uncertainty because they do not know what they will experience. Because no matter how much information is given to the patients, they do not have the opportunity to see without experiencing it, even though they have an idea about what the side effects will be. That’s why patients experience great anxiety,” he said.
The first shock comes at the diagnosis stage.
Psychologist Aslıhan Kurt explained that cancer patients go through the process of learning about their disease and how they should be approached in this process: First, the patient cannot believe it and tries to make sense of the anxiety he is experiencing. When he hears the diagnosis, he asks himself questions such as ‘why me’, ‘what am I going to do now, am I going to die? He cannot sleep, loses his appetite, withdraws and wants to be alone all the time. He loses his sense of control. Until the treatment process begins, that is, until the first crisis shock is overcome and the treatment plan is issued, patients generally continue to give such reactions.
The first step in the fight against cancer should be psychological support!
Treatments have some side effects. Since these side effects are of the type that will disrupt the patient’s body image and self-perception (eg, hair loss), the patient tries to cope with the changes due to these side effects while experiencing this process of acceptance. Just like a warrior, he tries to survive.
In this regard, patients should be encouraged to express their feelings at every stage of their treatment. In addition, since the support he receives from his environment is important, the patient should be told that he should share such concerns with his relatives. The more a person shares this with his/her environment, the easier it is for him to both accept the reality and cope with the disease with the support he will receive from them.
How the patient goes through the treatment process, what the disease is, at what stage it is, the patient’s age, gender, whether the social support is sufficient, past coping skills, the presence of a psychiatric history and the control of pain are closely related. Other stressful events that the patient has experienced in the past, such as losses or a family history of cancer are important. The patient makes calculations of many things he has experienced in this process. And all these experiences affect the treatment process.
Depression treatment should be standard practice for all cancer patients
The reactions of the patients show differences in diagnosis, treatment, recurrence and terminal period. So it has to be seen as a process. It’s like a step-by-step ladder. A person who is shocked at the diagnosis stage may become angry with healthy people at certain periods, when the treatment process begins, he may enter into a bargain on the way to recovery and question himself and those around him. Because he has come out of an intensive treatment process, he may feel discouraged, as if he is starting all over again, and may react like “this is my body, I don’t want treatment anymore”.
At the end of this long and laborious process, the news of relapse creates a second shock to the person that most patients may react more severely at this point and become depressed.
Sometimes families are intrusive and do not tell the patient their diagnosis. This is a troubling issue because the patient is more distressed by the feeling that something is being hidden about him, rather than what the diagnosis is. Every patient has the right to know the truth about himself. Only in such a case does the patient take his own responsibility and become a part of the treatment. At every stage of the disease; Patients need an environment where they feel understood and can express their feelings comfortably. In this process, when the psychological support they need is provided to the patients, their compliance with treatment increases.
Psychological damage should be intervened in a timely manner during the cancer treatment process.