What can cancer patients do to improve their mental health during COVID-era?
It’s not easy keeping up with the pressures of this pandemic life style, it is certainly less easy for cancer patients, who are particularly vulnerable due to their low immune system. Many of them are in a long waiting list to receive treatment, get clinical study results, find funds or work to pay for cancer treatments, the list goes on.
A big part of dealing with cancer in COVID-era will begin with the patient’s general mental health and determination to STAY ALIVE IN A POSITIVE STATE OF MIND. It can surely be overwhelming and many of the emotions that he/she is going through can be narrowed down to FEAR and UNCERTAINTY. I’ve received many phone calls in these last months from patients in U.S. and Europe who cannot make the trip to the hospital where I give IPT Cancer Treatments, due to financial issues or simply are not in good health to make the trip. I can hear their anguish and concern, because cancer is not respecter of time, it cannot be quarantine.
I truly believe that there is strength and power in the link between mind and body. Your thoughts determine your emotions and emotions play a huge part in the battle against cancer, because emotions are also chemical signals you give to your body. Mind alone cannot heal cancer, but it is a vital part in healing. Here are a few suggestions that cancer patients can use in their everyday life to try and improve their mental health while undergoing cancer treatment or waiting to renew treatments.
- I CAN DO THIS-. The most important thing you can do to begin with, is to believe and trust that you have it in you to overcome this adversity. Trust and believe that it is possible, try and remember other times in your life when you also had a big problem or adversity that you overcame and trust that if you where able to do it then, it can be done again.
- ASK FOR HELP-. You should not try and deal with your illness alone. Use all the help you can get, support from family and loved ones, professionals, online tools, but you need to reach out to others and ask for what it is you need. Don’t feel discouraged if people around you don’t seem to understand what you’re going through, we are all trying to deal with this pandemic the best we can, so dont give up and keep searching for help and support until you find it, do not try and deal with this alone.
- KEEP A HEALTHY LIFE STYLE-. It may sound obvious but If you’ve had cancer for a while you know that diet, rest, detox, supplements and exercise are the basics, you cannot drop any of these. It has to be a MUST. If you’ve done your homework in cancer diets and pro health life styles, you know how important it is to maintain it. Adapt to whatever environment you have access to. If you can no longer go out as often, then find new and creative ways to de-stress, move and have access to your basic needs and not allow cancer to proliferate due to absence of basic health routines.
- LAUGH-. It’s just so important. On a biochemical level, cancer patients need to up grade their serotonin and dopamine levels to improve immune support. If can achieve to laugh hard everyday and make it part of your everyday life style, this will most certainly improve your mental health. I’ve know therapies that it’s main objective is to cause patients to laugh. Just laugh on purpose, find funny videos, bloopers, movies, call a friend that you know is funny or as a last resort, just laugh on purpose, even if it may feel dumb but laugh HARD and surely the real laugh will come out. I cannot extend how important this is, that’s why I always begin IPT treatments with a good joke. It is medicinal, truly.
5. STAY AWAY FROM TOO MUCH NEWS-. I would strongly suggest to all cancer patients to abstain from watching news. I would suggest to ask a loved one to watch it for you and just give you a general update on main facts that are happening around the world or locally, but do not engage in news-watching time, since it may cause worry and anxiety levels to rise. We all need to be informed on what is happening in the world, yes, but don’t engage too much time in it, nor social media if you are prompt to emotional sensitivity.
6. AVOID DEPRESSING LITERATURE, MUSIC, VIDEOS, MOVIES OR TV SERIES-.
Stay away from material that will get you in a negative mental and emotional state. Avoid horror movies, videos about misfortunes, apocalyptic literature, serial killers, anything that might add stress to your mental and emotional health. You need to be super selective on what goes inside your body, eyes, mind, everything, specially if you are a cancer patient. I cannot overly express how important this mental hygiene is to anyone, but specially to those who are undergoing a chronic degenerative illness. Negative stuff is free and at your grasp all over the internet and TV, please choose nutritious stuff for your mind and soul.
7. START THERAPY IF NEEDED-. This COVID-era may bring out unsolved issues in your life that may require professional help. If needed I think it is healthy to begin psychological help, many mental health professional offer their services via video calls or even group therapy. We are unsure when we will return to normality so it might still take a while, use time wisely to heal other parts of yourself.
8. SUPPORT GROUPS-.
You are not alone in this, sometimes it just helps to talk to someone who is going through the exact thing you’re dealing. There must be support groups, even if these are not clinical therapy, but just people with same problems, talking and helping each other, can make a huge difference. There are also 12-Step programs for emotional and mental support you can find help with. As I mentioned before, you need to find what you need at this very moment.
9. FAITH IN GOD OR A HIGHER POWER-. You can read more about this in a previous post I wrote about the importance of God and faith in any medical treatment. If you’ve never had a religious belief, now would be a good time to start. Prayer and meditation can help you connect to a higher power, which to me personally is God. Wether it’s a church or temple, but start looking for your faith, it will add so much to your life and help you deal with any given problem in a more serene way.
10. DO THE BEST YOU CAN-. Get up every day and do the best you can with what you have. We can be so harsh on ourselves and others, demanding way more than what we can give and that can burn you out. See reality as it is, see what you can and cannot do, but don’t over do it. Be responsible in keeping your healthy life style and try to get cancer treatment as soon as possible. We offer our services in alternative cancer treatments using Insulin Potentiation Therapy at Hospital Angeles Tijuana, Mexico.
I hope this list can guide you in a taking action towards a more healthy life style. Mental health is so important and needs to be addressed properly aside with any cancer treatment. So hang in there dear patient, my IPT Medical Team is open to you if you should decide to begin treatments with us, just give us a call or write to us. We truly care about our patients, it’s not just cancer treatment, it’s about humans helping humans. That’s the IPT Way.
Donato Perez Garcia, MD