For most people the diagnosis of cancer causes profound distress because drives the patient to the paradigm of a life threatening illness. Many questions arise, creating feelings of incertitude and confusion. Efforts have been made trying to find out the best way of giving approprioate support for patients and relatives. Psycho-oncology (PO) is the fruit of these efforts.
PO care can enable patient and family through this difficult journey with positive attitudes and a sensitive response to their new needs. The main issue is to help patient/family to adapt to the unexpected reality. This adaptation may be achieved by discussing interlaced themes such as oncology treatments, changes in routine life, individual and family dynamics and psychological intervention strategies to facilitate the acceptance process.
To establish a good support system the PO must also incorporate the multidisciplinary care team in this process, opening opportunities for discussions and sharing and exchanging experiences among the members of the team.
Psychological support for patient and family
The impact of a cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. It presents a difficult time of adaptation to confront the new reality for both patient and family. That includes redefining values of life, struggling with the paradox of life and death, coping with physical and psychological changes, searching for the meaning of the situation, learning to live day to day with an uncertain future. These issues tend to go back and forth during and after the cancer treatment. The role of the PO is initially to recognize the particularities of each patient/family. People have different perceptions of the situation and varying needs. The following steps are suggested and offer the individualized support available in the institution. For instance:
• being accessible to help with all kinds of information,
• giving a supportive psycho-intervention for the newly diagnosed patients.
• using techniques of relaxation, treating anxiety/depression,
• preparing and giving support to surgery or phobic reactions to treatments,
• proposing psychodynamic or existential psychotherapy,
• offering supportive psychological care for advanced cancer patients and intervention in situations of crisis.
Rosana S. Faria
Psychologist OPQn. 1013304
514-345-3511 ext ; 6679