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May 11, 2020

On this episode, Dr. JYP talks with Dr. Ron Franks, professor and chair of psychiatry at the USA College of Medicine, about dealing with the fear and anxiety that can be a side effect of a cancer diagnosis. Plus, he shares some common tactics patients can use to help get through this phase of their cancer journey. A cancer diagnosis can produce the same effects as PTSD, and if these feelings are not managed, they can have detrimental results in treatment success and quality of life.

Patients and their physicians need to recognize any abnormal
behavioral changes and determine if any excessive anxiety and
depression are a physiological reaction to their treatment, or
something more. To curtail the psychological issues of a cancer
diagnosis, patients need to surround themselves with a positive and caring team of family and friends who will help them in their cancer fight. If there is a more significant problem, their physician can look into pharmaceutical treatment options or schedule an appointment with a counselor or other mental health professional.


Key Takeaways:

Fear is a natural response to a real threat. Anxiety is an exaggerated fear that doesn't fit with what the facts tell you.

Chemotherapy changes the brain chemistry of a patient and can increase the chance of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common phenomenon with the diagnosis of cancer.

A patient needs to feel a sense of some control as opposed to being controlled by the cancer.

Whether a patient uses fight or control, they don't need to feel like a passive victim.

A cancer patient needs to have a supportive team of optimistic family, friends, physicians, medical staff, and possibly cancer survivor support groups.


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Until next time, be healthy, happy and always thriving.

The Docs Said:

To a patient, living with cancer can be similar to the concept of having a tiger behind them.

I try to help my patients to see cancer as a nuisance, not something that's going to control their lives, but something they just have to put up with as they go about living their lives.

Fatigue comes as much from the psychological as the physical - chemotherapy and radiation - that takes a toll on the patient.

Cancer patients don't have a guarantee. Unfortunately, life doesn't give us guarantees.



The Cancering Show is brought to you by USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute at the University of South Alabama. MCI is a cutting-edge cancer research and treatment center built to fight cancer smarter in Mobile and Baldwin counties in Alabama. Our researchers and clinicians focus daily on the struggle against cancer, serving a potential catchment population of more than 4.1 million people, with a singular focus of advancing cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention throughout the Gulf Coast and beyond with science, technology and hope.

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