Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a life-altering event that can severely impact a patient’s emotional and physical wellbeing. To support your patients and their immediate relatives during this challenging time, you’ll have to start thinking, speaking, and acting with delicacy and caution.
For some useful tips on helping patients cope with a cancer diagnosis, keep reading.
Understand Their Feelings
A nursing assessment prior to the diagnosis can assess a patient’s history of depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress, which can help you anticipate their reaction to the forthcoming diagnosis. Upon diagnosis, your patient is likely to go through multiple stages of emotional distress. They might act irritable, nervous, sad, angry, uncooperative, or noncompliant. Allow them time to process the reality of their circumstance before intervening.
Refrain from dismissing or invalidating the patient’s concerns. Instead, validate any worries and fears they might have and, if they’re unrealistic, calmly explain why. Inform them that it’s normal to experience these strong, overwhelming emotions and that they’re not alone in the treatment process.
By assessing the patient’s emotional reaction to their diagnosis, you can identify strengths and weaknesses that can help you form a coping strategy that’s well-suited to their personality and emotional fortitude.
Encourage an Open Dialogue
Another way to help patients cope with a cancer diagnosis is to encourage an open dialogue. There are plenty of ways to communicate exam results to your patients, some of which exclude you from the immediate aftermath of the devastating announcement.
If you’re the patient’s primary caregiver, you’re bound to see them again. In order to facilitate a supportive environment, it’s best to encourage an open dialogue. Let your patient speak to you about their fears, concerns, and questions regarding their cancer diagnosis and treatment. Inform them that they’re welcome to call or plan a visit to discuss any lingering inquiries they might have.
This provides them with a knowledgeable person they can rely on for medical advice and keeps them from scouring the internet for misinformation that can trigger feelings of hopelessness and anxiety.
Be A Source of Information
As a medical professional, your patients will rely on you for advice and referrals to other specialists, either for chemotherapy, counseling, or physical therapy. You should carefully monitor your patient and, as necessary, provide treatment for additional symptoms. If your patient is showing symptoms of depression and anxiety, it’s critical to pursue immediate treatment.
Some behaviors and symptoms to look out for include, but aren’t limited to:
- Decreased Ability to Function
- Decreased Interest in Hobbies
- Feelings of Hopelessness
- Low Self-Esteem
You can prescribe your patient the appropriate medication or refer them to a nurse, social worker, or psychiatrist.
Outside agencies and non-profit organizations dedicated to supporting patients with cancer can help patients manage their emotions and stress. They’ll be able to receive advice, encouragement, and other forms of support from cancer survivors and individuals currently being treated for the illness.