For the majority of women, a cancer diagnosis can unleash as many emotional symptoms as physical ones. Because of the great work many groups have done in raising awareness about cancer and its symptoms, most of us know about the physical effects of the disease. But the emotional impact of both cancer and its treatment are often ignored and rarely addressed. It’s our goal to change that.
When I was undergoing treatment, I tried on numerous occasions to tell others how I was feeling—whether it was a general loss of interest in doing things I would have otherwise enjoyed, feeling scared, unsure of how to best care for myself or afraid of what the future would hold—the common response was “Oh that’s normal!”. Personally, I found it very frustrating to be told that feeling discouraged and full of anxiety was “normal” because for me it was anything but. It was as though it were something I just had to accept and live with. It’s bad enough that the treatment itself makes you feel sick, but coupled with the anxiety and unknown of what lies ahead—it can be very challenging and it does make you feel all alone.
With cancer there can be a lot of grieving—grieving the loss of the life one may have hoped for, loss of relationships, loss of a job or even someone’s place in society or the community at large. And of course there is loss of self-confidence that makes everything seem more challenging. For me, the reality that as a young woman of 30 years old I would never be able to have children was very disturbing. I grieved not being able to have a family. There were even times when I used to wonder if anyone would ever want to kiss me again.
From anxiety and fear to embarrassment and shame about body changes caused by treatment, the emotional fallout from cancer is real and it can impact a woman’s ability to fight and endure through the difficult ordeal of cancer. We call this emotional trauma The Cancer Blues, and by giving this malady a name for the first time, we are making it possible for women to speak about the impact the disease has on their well-being. We want women to know that you don’t have to suffer in silence.
I invite you to help us share awareness of the Cancer Blues by helping us to start a long-overdue conversation about the emotional fallout of cancer and its treatment. You can help by sharing one of our suggested messages below, or one of your own using the hashtag #beatthecancerblues.
Let’s lead the charge against the Cancer Blues!