Whether you've recently been diagnosed or have been dealing with cancer for a while now, the mental anguish cancer causes definitely makes everyday life challenging. The financial pitfalls and uncertain future can also increase stress levels. When you add the physical pain associated with cancer itself (or the troubling after-effects of treatment), it's easy to feel overwhelmed. If your physical pain has become difficult to manage, here are a few suggestions to help you deal with your chronic cancer pain in a healthy, positive way.
After cancer surgery or radiation treatment, the pain can linger for several months or even years. Your oncologist may prescribe medication to help you cope. Some popular painkillers that block pain include morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. While these are very beneficial at blocking pain for the short term, over time, you can develop an extraordinary tolerance for them, especially if you take them frequently. The result is having to take more pills, more often than prescribed, in order to get any pain relief. The worst part is that your body can go through extreme withdrawals when stopping these opioid medications. It’s crucial to follow your doctor’s orders precisely when taking these medications because they can adversely influence your health. If you feel you are taking more than you should or you can’t stop taking them, you may need professional help with clearing your system of the drug. Checking into a rehabilitation unit, like the Harris House, can help you safely detox your body from the drug. From there, you will be prescribed a new medication to control pain while you’re finishing up the cancer treatment or being monitored during remission.
Physical pain triggers emotional and mental pain. Concentrating can be difficult, if not impossible when you’re depressed and in a lot of pain. One alternative to medication would be to find a natural solution. This could be:
• Meditation and guided imagery help with focusing on pain relief
• Yoga and stretching techniques
• Mild or intense exercise to build strength and stamina
• Relaxation therapy
• Massage therapy
• A diet rich in antioxidants
• Vitamins and natural supplements to help curb pain and anxiety
Learning ways to cope with your pain naturally will deter you from seeking relief through pills and alcohol. Drug and alcohol abuse can compound your health issues and make it harder for your family, who is also dealing with your cancer diagnosis.
When you have chronic pain you may feel isolated. This stems from being unable to handle social situations or everyday tasks in which you have to engage. If you’re turning to drugs or alcohol to soothe your mental or physical pain, you may be too zoned out to carry on a conversation or simply take care of yourself. This isolation can lead to further depression and discouragement. Finding group support can help you feel less isolated. Sometimes finding a group that you can relate to is all you need to get a better grip on your situation. If you’re also facing depression or have thoughts of suicide, now is the time to reach out for help. In addition to group therapy, a psychologist or counselor can give you tips and the tools you need to cope with a stressful situation or diagnosis.
Frequent Doctor Visits
Whether you’re in remission or you’re actively seeking cancer treatment, it’s important to see all of your medical doctors on a frequent basis. This will make it easier for them to monitor your health and test for underlying medical problems you may face while you’re dealing with your pain and cancer. Sometimes cancers spread. You might develop other cancers or illnesses that need prompt treatment. Frequent vital sign monitoring, imaging scans, and blood work can help detect issues before they become a major health issue.
Pain is often associated with chronic diseases like cancer. Learning how to cope without losing yourself along the way takes persistence. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.