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On this track, we will discuss influences or factors that affect how well clients cope. I have found four factors play into how my client may cope with cancer. The four types of influences are the disease itself, stage of life, resources, values, and emotional patterns of the client, and social support.
As you listen to this track, consider your client. How long has he or she been living with the diagnosis of cancer? What information might you try to obtain from your client in order to define the influences in his or her life which may influence how the client might cope with cancer?
Factor # 1. The Disease Itself
Clearly, a woman who has been recently diagnosed with localized cancer of the cervix medically would appear to have much less serious disease and, therefore, by some standards less of a stressor to cope with than a woman who finds that her cancer has spread to distant organs. However stress is clearly based upon perception.
Factor # 2. Stage of Life
Factor # 3. Social Support
Let’s look at the other side of the connection between social support and coping with cancer. Would you agree that Branden suffered from additional distress? Branden, age 28, stated, “Here I am undergoing the removal of some weird cancerous mass and my fiancé, the woman I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with, leaves me!” Perhaps Branden’s perceived abandonment was more devastating to him than the disease itself.
I find that support, however, is by no means limited to the emotional variety. A parent with cancer can benefit simply from a neighbor’s offer to babysit a couple of afternoons a week, allowing the parent time alone. Healthcare professionals can provide informational support when they tell cancer patients what to expect and help them gain insight into the predictable course of their disease. Clients often report that just knowing that a particular physical or emotional reaction to a type of surgery is normal can help resolve emotional distress and enhance the client’s ability to cope with the cancer treatment.
Factor # 4. Resources, Values, and Emotional Patterns
Have your found like I that religion, spirituality, and the belief in an afterlife may also affect the way clients cope with cancer? Some clients may feel that cancer is a punishment for sin, or a path to a higher plane of existence. Or perhaps a client’s religious beliefs emphasize selflessness and the stoic acceptance of suffering, resulting in difficulty for the client to complain appropriately and get the necessary care. Think of your client. How might his or her resources, values, and emotional patterns affect how he or she copes with cancer?
On this track we have discussed influences or factors that affect how well clients cope with cancer. Four influences can be the disease itself, stage of life, resources, values, and emotional patterns of the client, and social support.
On the next track we will discuss dealing with discovery. Let’s examine three issues surrounding dealing with discovery. They are denial, anger, and sense of loss. We’ll also discuss techniques for minimizing the sense of loss.
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