Transitioning from a cancer patient to a cancer survivor signifies that you have physically healed from cancer; however, it does not mean that you’ve physically healed from the effects of chemo, nor does it signify that you have healed emotionally. Emotional wellbeing is much harder to measure. And right now, you and your family could be experiencing a lot of different feelings.
Because cancer is hard on everyone in a family, counseling is a wonderful way for you and your loved ones to address concerns, underlying feelings, and fears in a safe and healthy setting.
Seeing a Family Counselor Is a Sign of Strength
Mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, are incredibly common across the entire population. According to the World Health Organization, one in four people will be affected by some type of mental health issue during his/her life. While these conditions are common their treatment is not always seen as a priority. However, addressing the emotional effects of cancer on you and your family is an important part of the healing process.
What Can You Expect from Family Counseling?
Family counseling sessions vary according to the specific needs and current difficulties of the family. Examples of scenarios survivors and their families may face include:
- Young children who have become very clingy and needy as a result of a parent’s cancer.
- Survivors’ spouses who feel resentment about not feeling appreciated for carrying an extra burden while the survivor was undergoing treatment.
- Survivors who don’t feel like they were supported sufficiently during treatment.
- Spouses who are having trouble getting past the patient-caregiver roles.
- Family members who are depressed about finances.
- Family members who are scared and anxious about the cancer recurring.
Counseling can help family members better understand one another’s perspectives, learn new skills and strategies to cope with challenges, and better communicate feelings and needs.
Virginia is fortunate to have a prevalent number of family counselors whose areas of focus include family counseling for cancer patients and survivors, . Your treatment team can recommend counselors in your area. You can also search for counselors online, Psychology Today has an online database of “cancer therapists in Virginia.”
Remember that there are many resources for you and your family as you transition and adjust to a new normal.
Our cancer specialists at Virginia Oncology Associates understand that life after cancer requires adjusting. That’s why they’ve put together cancer survivor resources to help you address some of your worries, visit our Cancer Survivorship & Resources section for more information.