Dec 05, 2019 4:00 PM

Cancer is a life-changing experience for patients and their loved ones.

 “I'll never be the same person,” says Amber, who was treated for appendix cancer at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). “I look at pictures of myself and I cry, because I'll never be completely carefree again. I'll be happy and I'll live a good life, but once you've dealt with cancer, it's always on the back of your mind.”

Logan Prince, a licensed clinical social worker at HCI, says people with cancer may grieve the life they thought they had or the life they were hoping for.

“I tell people, ‘That was the old you. This is the new you. Let’s take a moment to grieve the old you,’” he says.

Grief is the mourning you feel after any kind of loss. It is a normal, healthy response to the changes cancer can bring—to your health, your peace of mind, your independence, your ability to work or do the things you love.

HCI social workers say it’s important to acknowledge grief and let yourself experience it. They offer these tips:

  • Know it’s OK to grieve—to cry, feel numb, be angry, or feel however you are feeling.
  • Talk about how you feel with friends, family, clergy, social workers, a support group, or your health care provider.
  • Ask for help from family members, friends, and neighbors when you need it.
  • Practice meditation or relaxation techniques.

How long grief lasts is different for every person. It may never go away completely, but the hurt it causes will lessen over time as you work through your feelings.

Even though you may not feel like the same person, you can still find a sense of who you are and define how you will live your life going forward. This process takes time and can continue after treatment. HCI social workers say these things may help:

  • Save your energy for the things you value most.
  • Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do.
  • If you can’t do the things you love in the same way, think about how to make adjustments.
  • Try something new.

For more help coping with a cancer diagnosis, contact HCI Patient and Family Social Workers.

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Cancer touches all of us.

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