Mental Health and the Cancer Journey

May is Mental Health Month. Mental health is the range of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that affect your well-being and how you relate to others.

Five of’s Patient Leaders write about their experiences with mental health in relation to their blood cancer. They answer questions like:

  • How do they think about the challenge to remain positive?
  • What do they worry about?
  • How do they persevere through their experiences with cancer and its treatment?

Just as mental health may vary from person to person, each of these stories offers a different perspective on mental well-being and maintaining a positive outlook.

What if you got a do-over?

Connie talks about a book she read where the main character gets to relive her life. Connie wonders what caused her cancer and whether her life would be better if she could have a do-over.

“What do you think your alternative life would resemble? Would you have a different career? If you had another job, would you be healthier? Would you still have blood cancer, and if so, would your medical team discover it sooner? How would your treatment plan differ?”

Read about how her faith keeps these thoughts at bay in The Midnight Library: What Would You Do Differently? by Connie Connely.

Grief and losing supportive friends

Yolanda grieves the friends she has lost and regrets keeping secrets about her health from them.

“I’m so appreciative of the network of friends who care for me as I for them. I appreciate the time and memories, but do wish we didn’t allow secrets from stalling further conversations, or thinking that each of us was alone.”

Read Losing Friends and the Secrets by Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo.

Staying positive, again and again

Carole writes about the challenges she faces to stay positive, first through her own blood cancer, and now through her husband's lung cancer.

“I am trying to live 'one moment at a time,' which is difficult for me as I like to be in control. Deep breathing and meditating have helped. I try not to dwell on the cancer and its treatment.”

She offers her tips to maintain positivity and keep going through a difficult time in Remaining Positive During Treatment by Carole McCue.

Overcoming fear and moving forward

Daniel writes, “Fear is a terrible master. Once it takes hold it easily sets up expectations that can be unrealistic and immobilizing. Fear has a way of preventing us from having a positive expectation that is big enough and strong enough to draw some level of confidence into our lives.”

He offers ways that have helped him reframe his fear and allowed him to move forward through his life with blood cancer.

Read Accumulation of Confidence by Dennis Golden.

What has love made you do?

Ronni talks about the worry she felt when she almost lost an important member of her care team. It was the one who got her through her stem cell transplant, her 15-year-old Labrador retriever, Maddie.

“Many of us have written about how much our furry friends help us. Maddie is my best blood pressure medicine. The feeling of hugging her, and of playing with her or petting her, sends soothing vibes through my body. I’m sure she helped me recover from my fourth and last stem cell transplant. ​I know her time will come. But for now I’m going to go back to hugging her and walking her and making all those endorphins that help both of us in our time of need.”

Read What I Did for Love by Ronni Gordon.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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