It’s a great thing to live through cancer and be able to tell about it. But survivorship comes with its own set of issues – financial, physical and emotional. Calgary’s psychosocial cancer researcher Janine Giese-Davis, PhD identifies some of the myths of survivorship.
Sure, positive thought may help health, but its healing power is not fully understood. Patients are exhorted to think positive all the time, making them feel culpable if they don’t and making them think that expressing normal emotions, such as fear and sadness, is off-limits.
No news is good news.
If patients don’t bring up difficult subjects like sexuality with their doctors, it mustn’t be a problem, right? Wrong. Discussion about how treatment has impacted intimacy is particularly difficult.
Get right back to routine.
Returning to work can be difficult. It can take a long time to get back into full-time hours, and even then, “chemo brain” can make people feel like they are underperforming. And there’s a lot of lost income to make up.
It’s easy to jump back in.
Sure, living through cancer is terrific, but the sudden shift from patient to regular guy can leave people feeling abandoned and afraid. Life has gone on and some survivors feel socially isolated.
It won’t come back.
Cancer might return, and people are living longer with and after cancer. The five-year post-cancer mark is no longer the magical marker, if it ever was. Learning to live with uncertainty is one of the burdens of survivorship.