Emotions & Cancer

Monday, February 14, 2011

Here are a few questions asked by a local reporter in regards emotions and Cancer:
Are previously reticent people more open to discussing emotions and spirituality once they have been diagnosed with cancer?

I have heard that attitude is an important part of beating cancer. How can loved ones help cancer patients change their attitude if it is not positive?

Responses from Dr. Rutledge

The response to a cancer diagnosis is highly variable - but most people approach their diagnosis as they have approached their life. Sometimes the cancer diagnosis can open people right up - like Andrew (see inspiring video link for his story on our website). Cancer provides a real opportunity to realize that life is very precious whether we live for another 2 years or 52 years. When people consider that carefully, they may be able to facilitate a deep transformation in their lives.

Being a loved one is very difficult. Lots of stress and often little to do but listen and brings one's loving presence to the person with the diagnosis. I don't recommend trying to change anyone - I think if we change ourselves - do our own work, deal with our own fears, let go of our judgements, be honest and open with our own emotions, then that brings a space in the relationship which may facilitate a change in perspective - but loving the person for where they are at is the goal.

Facing emotions head on: The most obvious example is working with the fear of recurrence or death. If every time those feelings come up, you simply try to suppress it, then the issue won't go away - and often comes out in different ways. If we look at the fears, we begin to understand them, untangle them, question them. It takes the power away from the fear - and we can let go of the exaggerations and extra suffering