Fighting MPN cancer? Be mindful of stress.
by David Wallace
If you have been diagnosed with MPN cancer, remember that it is just as important to take care of your mental wellbeing as your physical health. Cancer is stressful, with around one third of patients surveyed reporting stress surrounding how they would pay for treatment and care. Stress and cancer cause anxiety, which can be debilitating if left untreated.
Stress is the body’s natural response to pressure or fear, and there are benefits to feeling stress in some situations as it can boost alertness and vigilance that keep you safe under duress. However, when battling a significant medical condition like cancer, too much stress may compromise immunity and cause complications.
Help lessen the burden of stress while you fight and recover from cancer with these tips.
Managing MPN Related Stress
Everybody has a different way of coping with stress and anxiety, both healthful and not so much. These tactics are referred to as coping strategies and they may be helpful when you try to manage stress from cancer, and associated feelings of worry, fear, or depression.
While it may seem easier said than done, the effects of stress on the body when you are battling a disease like cancer are harmful and can impact your wellbeing.
The stressors of a cancer diagnosis are challenging and serious; some of the most common causes of stress and worry are:
- Fatigue from treatment
- Costs related to care
- Employment concerns
- Relationship issues
- Loss of control
- Discomfort or pain
- Physical and bodily changes during treatment and recovery
- Stress of trying to help others cope with your diagnosis
Many may also simply feel overwhelmed thinking about their own mortality amidst a cancer diagnosis and the uncertainty of life, in general.
Stress and Cancer
Stress and cancer can rob you of control over your life, immobilizing you with fear so that it’s difficult to make choices and move forward. The first goal of managing stress is to regain control of paralyzing fears, worries, and thoughts that are causing you to seek unhealthy ways to cope.
Turn the tables by figuring out your triggers and what seems to cause you stress, depression, and anxiety- so that you can predict tough situations, implement coping mechanisms, and work through these moments without unhealthy vices or relapse.
A great beginner activity is to start with areas of life that you can control, such as diet and exercise. Be vigilant about caring for what you put in your body, which will enhance your recovery from any illness or disease, and put effort and attention into a fitness regimen. Gaining control over what you eat can be remarkably empowering- and it feels perfect!
Coping with Cancer
So what are some positive and healthful coping strategies that may have an effect on something as serious as cancer? Accepting help and support is the first step toward developing new coping mechanisms. Learn to ask for what you need— whether it’s assistance or a friendly ear— from those that love and care about you. If you lack emotional support in your life, reach out to a support group that can offer insight into coping with cancer and the stressors that come along with it.
Some positive ways to cope with the stress of cancer include:
- Putting your health first. Eat well and exercise. Use good sleep hygiene to get plenty of rest. Drink enough water.
- Prioritizing your goals. Save energy by postponing tasks that are not important right now. Instead, focus on your health, wellbeing, and loved ones.
- Tending to self-care. Take a little time each day to pamper and indulge yourself. Read a book, take a bath, or have a nap— anything that lets you relax and focus on yourself.
- Stopping negative thoughts. Negativity can be a slippery slope. Try not to dwell on negative thoughts. Boost your morale with positive self-talk and affirmations throughout the day.
- This might be prayer, silent reflection, or deep breathing. Sit quietly and center yourself. Be mindful and focus on the present.
- Talking to others. Find people who are experiencing the same feelings as you. Join a support group, call a friend, or talk to a mental healthcare provider. Don’t try to go it alone. Sharing can be a cathartic experience.
Start now on reducing the stressors in your life one day at a time. Look for ways to replace worry with a calmer mindset by focusing on all the beauty around you. Put your health first and start living a more active and healthier life.