Cancer – a deep psychological suffering
The pain comes in people’s lives and breaks wings, crushes dreams, changes lives or takes lives! The days become shorter and nights seem endless! This makes you feel completely helpless. Your entire reference system is shaken – “tomorrow” is no longer a certitude, and the whole situation is fundamentally defined by uncertainty. All of a sudden, the ability to make plans for the future is strongly shaken for both the patient and his/her family. The inability to predict and organize life even in the most banal aspects of the everyday existence sets in suddenly and everything changes: nothing will be the same as before. Many lives are turned upside down!
The fear of suffering and death takes away the energy you need to live and to enjoy the beauty of everyday life. Just now when you most need emotional strength to deal with the disease, feelings that seem impossible to control appear – anxiety, depression, feelings of guilt, disturbed sleep, isolation, avoidance, irritability, stress and sometimes self-destructive behaviours interfere with the healing process.
All existential aspects collapse – psychological, physical, human and spiritual
With the onset of thorough investigations, the patient experiences a state of anxiety, a state linked to the unknown, the suffering being difficult to bear. The idea of being the victim of events often comes along with a strong rage directed to those around you or yourself, or even God. The feelings of anxiety and despair alternate with those of denial of the disease.
Surgery can often change the perception of your own body in a negative sense, although it should be viewed with much hope and relief.
Medical treatments for oncological disease are often pressing, resulting in inherent fatigue and effects on one’s identity: hair loss, body change and perception. In many cases, early menopause installs. All of these are unforeseen issues, which the patient has to deal with.
The relationship with people around – your family, your children, your life partner, your friends and colleagues – creates contrasting emotions: on the one hand, the desire to protect them from contact with pain and to avoid putting any pressure on them and burdening them with different tasks, and on the other hand, the need to be listened, understood and supported.
After finding out the diagnosis, the person is no longer able to perform his/her daily tasks, and is no longer able to be a mother, wife, colleague or daughter as before. Social roles are altered and often lost.
Psychological support is one of the keys to get through this experience as easily as possible
The psychological support of people who live this on-the-verge-of-life experience, I might say, is about taking care of them physically, but also being emotionally there for them. Although in these moments they need more people around, paradoxically, they often experience situations in which the others go away, not knowing how to react, what to say or what to do. A meeting with death is not an easy task to anyone, and we often tend to keep clear, as much as possible, in such a situation, precisely because of our own fears about this sensitive subject. Mental pain and ruptures often appear, along with feelings of frustration, guilt and disappointment.
The consequences of this “emotional quake” in most cases take two major directions: the first regards a maturation process that the patient goes through, the way he/she sees life in general undergoes tremendous changes. The other direction is that in which the person gets stuck, living the diagnosis announcement as a final point of life, as an event that does not make sense, as a personal struggle with fate.
The support provided by a specialist in psycho-oncology is, in most cases, welcome. Within the support group, the psychotherapist and the patient create an alliance, looking for solutions to improve the quality of life and to prolong it. Strong emotions are released, and the psychotherapist has the ability to reduce them, to be there for the man/woman in front of him, both emotionally and by providing information about the illness and the treatment.
“Restart Your Life!” – the support group program for patients diagnosed with cancer – supports female patients, enhances the beneficial effects of medical treatments and reduces the adverse effects thereof. By participating in the support group program, the patient begins to:
- become aware of the fact that she actively participated at the development of her illness
- experience the stage (“But why? Why me? Why cancer?”), then she empowers herself
- become responsible for her healing
- proceed with diagnosis management
- use her intuition and the body’s natural healing power
- go through emotional healing
- reduce stress
- refine, rebuild and restructure the relationships in her life
- forgive, accept and love
- become grateful for everything she and her own life mean
- give up food that favors inflammation and nourishes malignant cells
- understand that detoxification is the secret weapon
- appreciate sleep as a friend
- nourish her body with a diet based on raw fruits and vegetables, seeds and whole grains
- learn more on alternative treatments and apply those she feels in harmony with her body
- give proper importance to regulating digestion
- take decisions by consulting with health care professionals, family and close relatives and to assume these decisions
- look at life with patience and perseverance
- understand the cause and eliminate it
- understand that she cannot go back to the life that lead to cancer
- seek to understand what cancer is and how to stay in remission or at an undetectable level of the disease
- grow spiritually
- change who she was for who she is now
- live in the present
- change the way she perceives death
- read, search and test things
- change her lifestyle
- invest in the immune system
- accept help from others, but rely on her inner force
- become the observer of her own life, of the mind-ego tandem
- dream, pray, love and make plans
- enjoy life without expectations.
In its second year of existence, the project “Restart Your Life!”. The support group program for patients diagnosed with cancer – a program developed in Bucharest by the “Regina Maria” Foundation, which emerged from a deep need for such services – has developed in the city of Ploieşti as well, beginning with May 2017. Here, the project operates under the same structure as in Bucharest, approaching the disease on several levels: medical, psychological, nutrition, sports, spiritual, beauty, social, labor and justice.
Social patients, members of the program, now benefit (based on the fidelity card “Restart Your Life!”) of free assistance on the following domains:
- medical: imaging investigations and consultations, specialist consultations, specific analyses for this diagnosis, lymphatic drainage massage sessions, physical therapy sessions, breast reconstructions
- psychological: group assistance, counseling sessions and individual psychotherapy
- nutrition: personalized nutrition plans
- sports: fitness sessions “Yoga for Cancer”
- spiritual: courses of emotional and spiritual growth
- beauty: counseling sessions in beauty, providing patients with natural hair wigs
- social: organizing bimonthly social activities, cultural events (theater, life music, film etc.)
- work and justice: legal assistance.
Moreover, together with the support group, they’ve accepted the invitation to be with us (and we thank them for this) the team of volunteers and partners: Cătălina Costovici (Medical Oncology - DOC Expert), Prof. Dr. Pavel Chirilă (Nursing Medicine), Dr. Ana Maria Florescu (Physical Therapy and Physiotherapy), Dr. Ina Petrescu (Plastic Surgery), Dr. Dragoş Zamfirescu (Plastic Surgery), Dr. Cristina Pavel (Apitherapy, Phytotherapy, Aromatherapy), Dr. Mircea Goncu (Oncology), Dr. Dorina Vasile (Oncology) and Andreea Simona Coste (Sports Coach – Blue Studio), Dr. Nicolae Bolog (Radiology – Phoenix Clinic), Dr. Claudiu Tronciu (Diagnosis and Treatment – Neolife Clinic), Psychologist Iuliana Suhaianu and Psychologist Andreea Rusu (PSI Smart Association – oncological psychology trainer) and, last but not least, Psychologist Andreea Gabriela Popescu (psychologist, facilitator).
The program is free of charge for patients without incomes and without insurance, due to the financial support of C&A Romania; for patients with incomes lower than 1,600 RON, the cost of a session is between 20 and 40 RON, and for beneficiaries with incomes over 1,600 RON, the cost of a session is 80 RON.
“Restart Your Life” is part of a series of pilot programs developed with the support of C&A Romania in Baba Novac Social Polyclinic, including the program for women’s health – investigation and treatment for 250 women with chronic illnesses, but also gynecological and senologic screening – and the “Dentist for Children of Social Patients” program, where about 80 children benefited from free dental treatment.
The “Regina Maria” Social Policlinic Foundation is a non-governmental organization that has been offering, for over 6 years now, a wide range of free medical services to people without income and medical insurance, and at very low costs for those with incomes lower than 800 RON per month.
Baba Novac Social Polyclinic is a program dedicated to people without income, launched by the “Regina Maria” Policlinic Foundation in 2011. The number of patients in need of these services has increased significantly from year to year, and the last year, with the support of companies and individual donors, we also privided free dental services dedicated to children of social patients and created a psychological support group for cancer patients. Thus, 5,640 consultations were provided, of which 1,791 were internal medicine consultations, 2,622 were dental consultations, 296 were gynecological consultations, and 241 were psychological consultations.