How can you cope with the emotional challenges of long-term treatment?
Each phase of the lung cancer journey has its own unique emotional challenges. People who are in long-term treatment are often especially concerned about what the future might bring in terms of side effects and treatment options. Below are some tips on how you can better manage your emotional health.
- Accept your emotions. It is completely normal to worry. People with a cancer diagnosis often feel their world is turned upside-down, and not just at the time of diagnosis.
- Allow yourself to mourn the loss of what you expected your life to be, or what you think it should be. Work toward finding peace with what it is and how you can not only survive, but thrive.
- Have honest discussions with your loved ones and healthcare providers about how you’re feeling and your quality of life goals. Focus on those goals, even on bad days.
- Seek peer support through groups like the Lung Cancer Survivors Community on Inspire, or find a therapist who has experience working with cancer patients.
- Identify what is within your control. The easiest way to do this is through educating yourself. Ask your medical team questions and explain what you hear back to them so you can be sure you have it right.
- Practice belly breathing to help with shortness of breath and anxiety.
- Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating properly and exercising any way you can.
- Write down your thoughts in letters or journal entries. Sometimes letting your worries and concerns out can be therapeutic.
- Draw on what has helped you cope with difficult moments in the past in a healthy way.
- Surround yourself with people and things that bring you joy.
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There's no right or wrong way to cope with lung cancer. Be patient with yourself, listen to your body and mind and remember you are the expert on your own life. Learn more about coping with emotions.
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Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel. Last reviewed November 19, 2017.