All of us have been coping with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic for almost two years. Some of the effects are common to all us, and some have been unique to each individual or family. Perhaps no one has had a more unique experience during the pandemic than cancer patients, and their families and caregivers. Most cancer patients who are in treatment are already immune compromised, and live cautiously. The pandemic has been another open-ended stressor, compounding the loss of well-being already experienced with the cancer diagnosis.
The therapists at Fran’s Place Center for Cancer Counseling work exclusively with cancer patients and their families, and were able to provide unique insight into what the past two years has been like for this particular group:
Adult cancer patients who live alone have faced unique challenges:
Children whose parents have cancer often faced increased loneliness and depression. Under ordinary circumstances (pre-pandemic), such feelings are usually mitigated by social interactions and the daily trip to school. The pandemic made children of cancer patients feel even more isolated.
When a cancer patient actually gets Covid, the impact can be severe. Several of our clients were diagnosed with Covid over the past two years, and some have even lost loved ones to the disease. Being sick with Covid, and in the case of losing someone close, being unable to grieve and memorialize normally, made the physical and emotional impact of the disease even tougher to handle.
How coping can be improved:
Our clinicians have encouraged our clients and their families to use every tool available to better cope with the increased stress. Some of the tactics have included:
Our founder, Fran Baumgarten summed up her perspective on coping with the pandemic this way:
Our clinicians have also shifted how they are coping, and not surprisingly, they follow much of the advice they give patients. Going outdoors, exercise, walks, yoga, reading, and maybe an extra indulgence in movies. Most have adopted a balanced way of staying informed and consuming news, so as not to increase stressors. Focusing on the here and now with gratitude for what is going well- a day of sunshine, a good book, a conversation with a loved one – even just a day of good health. Staying focused on the positives wherever we may find them.
Cancer patients and their families face so many stressors, often each unique to that person or family. Helping them to cope with the pandemic has been just one more thing to deal with. On the bright side, our clients have reported that they do well when they use the coping skills that we help them learn. And our therapists are doing well applying similar advice to their own lives.