From The Expert
- Cancer patients of any age are impacted by coronavirus, not just older patients
- Being open about concerns with peers and loved ones can help mental health
- Cancer psychologists are using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a technique to help cancer patients deal with stress
Dr. Dianne Shumay, a psychologist who works exclusively with cancer patients at The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Cancer Center, shares some ways she’s been helping patients cope with not only their battle with cancer, but increased stress due to Covid-19. According to Shumay, the perception that coronavirus only seriously impacts older adults is misleading, seeing as vulnerable people of any age are equally at risk.Read More
Dr. Shumay encourages cancer patients to be open about their feelings with peers and other loved ones as a way to ease concerns and fears they might have. During this time, Dr. Shumay says that cancer psychologists have been using the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy technique, which helps patients stay positive and mindful during stressful times.
“This technique allows us to use mindfulness and values-based living to really focus on living the best possible life, even at times we’re under extreme anxiety,” Dr. Shumay says.
Areas To Focus On, According To Dr. Shumay
- Treat yourself with kindness.
- Seek social support
- Give to Others
- Allow yourself to receive kindness
Dr. Shumay isn’t the only psychologist stressing how important it is to value mental health during this time. Dr. Marianna Strongin told SurvivorNet on March 17th that the general public’s anxiety over coronavirus is connecting them to the reality of cancer patients — through shared worries and fears. Dr. Strongin told SurvivorNet that there are ways to deal with anxiety, which includes breathing techniques, prioritizing your own mental health, or medication in some cases.
According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety affects 40 million adults in the United States from 18 years old and up — making it the most common mental illness in the U.S. Furthermore, nearly 50% of cancer survivors experience symptoms of anxiety. So, when it comes to feelings of stress and nerves, no one is that different.
“Anxiety is a part of all of us,” Dr. Strongin says. “It’s important to have a healthy relationship with your anxiety and get to know it rather than fear it, avoid it or push it away.”
Check out SuvivorNet’s resources for ways to find calm amid the Covid-19 pandemic.