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Coping in the Stressed-Out World of Cancer
Susan Diamond, LCSW, Ernest H. Rosenbaum, MD and David Spiegel, MD

Coping with cancer entails navigating effectively between being so overwhelmed by the threat that you feel helpless and denial that the threat exists. Getting that balance is a constantly shifting and demanding process. It involves accepting temporary crisis situations and utilizing the disruption to formulate new plans.

The pattern of response you establish during an acute crisis is likely to become cemented in place, regardless of its relative effectiveness. Effective coping involves taking in and processing the emotional reaction to the danger and seeking the opportunity for a response that at least mitigates the danger.

Acknowledge the problem.
It is better to face head-on whatever is threatening you than to deny or avoid it.

Be specific.
See the problem as being on a continuum, more or less difficult, rather than as an all-or-nothing catastrophe.

Seek Information.
The more you know about a problem, the more likely you are to figure out a better way of dealing with it.

Feel what you feel.
Difficult situations, bring strong emotions with them. Let them come and learn from them. Emotions can point out to us what is important, and when shared appropriately, can build intimacy and support.

Seek social support.
Don't do it alone. Family and friends often feel more helpless than you do. They welcome any opportunity to help. Give them many.

Find an Active Response
You will feel better about any problem when you find a way to be active about it. Even if you can't solve the problem or make it go away, you will feel better if you can do something about some aspect of it.

Reprinted by permission from Coping magazine

Of Interest:
Group Support
Stress and Survival
False Positives

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