Take a look at the word cloud above. These words, all of them, spoken by people who have faced testicular cancer, used to describe what their experience was like. Take a moment to go through them and see how many you can identify. Chances are people who have faced cancer of any kind can relate to a lot of those words.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a scary moment. Numbing, frightening, and life changing. It always comes as a shock, an unwanted presence in the patient’s life. Suddenly, the world is turned upside down. Fear, confusion, and depression can set in quickly. Instantly, your mental health is taking a beating, and it can be hard to control, dissect, acknowledge, and process all of the feelings that come with being diagnosed.
It’s no secret that the medical and physical side of a fight with cancer is only part of the whole battle. A big part of it is also mental health and attitude. The effects that a diagnosis and treatment can have on mental health are not a large part of the overall discussion when it comes to living with cancer. It becomes easy to put on a mask and pretend that you are as strong as you want people to think. But on the inside, you may be falling apart. It’s very common among cancer patients, but it can be a debilitating mental state to be in.
One of the strongest partners in the mental fight of cancer is having a strong support group. Whether it’s a group of friends, family members, or complete internet strangers that share in your experience, support is key. In any situation, it’s never good to hold feelings in, or try to ignore them in hopes that they will go away. This can lead to further depression, feelings of sadness, and in turn, can affect your fight. Therefore it is critical to surround yourself with people who will listen without judgement. It’s critical to find friends, family, or even medical professionals, in whom you can confide. If all else fails, reach out to someone online. Somewhere out there, there is always someone willing to listen.
Keeping up and nurturing your mental health becomes crucial during a fight with cancer. It’s important to not ignore the symptoms of depression. A crucial element to maintaining a strong mental attitude is having that person or a group of people you can talk to without restriction. It’s great to connect with people who share your experience because it lets you know that in fact, you are not alone. Your feelings are normal and there is a way to handle them properly. It takes a strong mental attitude to fight cancer, yes. But still, it’s important to acknowledge those feelings of sadness, being overwhelmed, or being scared. They are all feelings of the human experience, amplified by the situation. Nothing about them is wrong. But there are right, and wrong ways of handling them.
Take a look at the word cloud again. Do any of those words ring true to your situation? If they do, then you should know you are not the only one to have spoken those word. You should know you are not the only that has had those feelings. And you should know, that there are always people out there who are willing to lend an ear when you need it. Don’t put on that mask. Don’t be afraid to be weak. Most importantly:
Don’t be afraid to seek help and support when you need it.
*Here at Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation, we are proud of the support group that is formed by the community that surrounds us. Both in our home communities, and online. Know that you are never alone. If it's needed, reach out to our online community to connect with someone to talk to. If you think you need more professional help, we urge you to talk to your doctor to get the treatment you need.
Our online volunteer John Taylor has also opened himself up to be a source of support, or that ear to listen. Reach out to him through a message on our Facebook page.
You are NEVER alone!*