• Were you just diagnosed with cancer?

    If so, you may be feeling scared, uncertain, anxious or angry. You may be numb or in shock. You may be wondering about how to tell your family, friends and employer. You may be worried about childcare if you have young children. All of this is understandable. A cancer diagnosis impacts you and your family.

    cristina culiolo peck

    I help men, women and children who have been diagnosed with cancer process their thoughts and feelings and prepare for some of the changes ahead.

    Is your family wanting to help but doesn’t know where to start?

    Although you were the one diagnosed, it’s probably impacted your loved ones. They may be turning to you with questions (What did the doctor say? Do you want to talk about it? What do you need me to do?) that add to your stress.

    To help lighten the load, and provide you with tools to go through these changes, I run cancer therapy and support groups for those diagnosed, as well as other groups for the families of people who have been diagnosed with cancer. This way, they can bring their feelings, thoughts and worries to group, and not burden you. They can also learn how to be available for their loved one while ensuring that they take care of themselves.

    Are the side effects of treatment taking their toll?

    Although people’s experiences vary, many experience rough side effects, weakness, fatigue, etc.

    In my cancer support groups, we help you plan for the next steps so that you can be as comfortable as you can at home. You’ll also feel less alone as others are going (or have gone) through similar experiences.

    How can therapy help me? It’s not going to cure my cancer!

    Individual, couples and family therapy help to lift some of the burdens off of clients with cancer. For example, some struggle with telling their family about the diagnosis and prognosis. Some want to “only be held” by their partner or spouse, but don’t want sexual contact. These personal issues can be explored more and discussed in the privacy of couples therapy. It’s just too much sorting through these challenges alone.

    Most clients need someone to listen to them, about whatever they want to talk about. Some want a quiet place to calm their worried minds and rest their weak bodies. Some want to share their hopes and fears without the pressure of feeling that they are overwhelming the listener. (You won’t overwhelm me.) Some clients notice that their circle of friends narrows. Therapy will help you embrace the “new normal”, which may include new friends you meet on this journey.

    What do other people with cancer talk about?

    In addition to the myriad of emotions, many share about the physical challenges that accompany cancer and its treatment:

    • a decreased level of energy
    • difficulty dressing, showering, carrying groceries, walking, etc.
    • an inability to do simple exercise
    • nausea and vomiting
    • no longer wanting or enjoying food
    • anxiety
    • depression
    • fears that your spouse or partner might leave you
    • fears of dying

    Other issues include the financial difficulties some have in being off of work without the income to support them.

    And, sometimes, although family and friends care, they can burnout from hearing about the difficulties that come with cancer treatment.

    How can you help me be less overwhelmed and emotional?

    First, know that it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and a huge range of thoughts and feelings. I am trained to treat trauma, which being diagnosed with cancer often causes. We may take time to do grief work. Your body that has provided you with energy and the life you had before cancer has changed.

    I offer tons of support, validation and, mostly, good listening. Many clients just want me to sit with them as they process this difficult time in their lives, and I do just that.

    Some feel guilt, “What did I do to deserve this?” or their faith is shaken, “Where is God? Does He even exist?” These are very common worries and questions. We’ll sort through them together in individual therapy, and possibly is group, as well.

    I’ll help to create some structure in your life that includes adding pleasant, life-affirming experiences in your life.

    If you have cancer, and want support for you, your spouse, or family, call or email me. I’d like to help.

    For more information, please visit www.theheartofcancer.org

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