Cancer and PTSD

Cancer and PTSD

 

I have wondered for many years why so many of our cancer patients refused to shout from their roof tops when they went into remission. Even after staying in remission for years, some people have been afraid to speak of their ordeals. I always had trouble understanding how some would not want to share their good news with others. Many times we would ask patients to speak with other newly diagnosed patients to help give them a sense of hope, only to hear that they were afraid to talk about it because the cancer may return. So many people feel that if they speak of the cancer they once had, they may bring it back into existence. For these reasons we do not have an abundance of testimonies on our website like other clinics. We refuse to put up false testimonies with false names.Recently the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported on a long-term study conducted by researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute. The study concluded more than one-third Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) cancer survivors experienced Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Surveys were mailed to 682 NHL survivors who were at least seven years post diagnosis. A total of 566 individuals participated. Half or 51% of the participates reported no PTSD symptoms and 12% reported they had experienced PTSD but the symptoms resolved. Thirty seven (37) percent reported persistence or worsening symptoms even after 5 years. Some individuals reported that the symptoms got worse as the years passed.

It is a fact the cancer diagnosis and events to follow can be and is very stressful. This study helped me to understand and realize another aspect of what our patients go through. We as family members, friends, doctors, need to consider what cancer patients are going through within their minds. They do not always tell us their true feelings. I encourage all doctors to remember that it could be them in their shoes so please speak with kindness and compassion.