Pancreatic Cancer places a heavy emotional toll on patients and their families and it is important to address not only the medical aspects of living with a diagnosis of cancer but also seek help and support around quality of life issues and concerns. The following are coping strategies that may be helpful:
Build Social Support
Cancer can be a very isolating experience. Friends and family may feel unsure about the best way to provide support and typically your normal routines will be affected due to the fact that you spending time getting treatment rather than at work or with family. Find new ways to connect with others: get help from friends, reach out to family, join a good support group at the cancer centre or participate in an online discussion.
Please forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you.
These simple words convey a lot of wisdom and creates a way to project oneself into the future and make sure that nothing is left unsaid. We don't have to be at the end of our life to say this to people we love and care about. Just the simple act of forgiveness and expression of love is a way of letting go of emotional baggage and effectively "resetting" our relationships.
Try to Talk Openly About Issues Related to Death and Dying
Death confronts all of us, but for pancreatic cancer patients the poor prognosis associated with the disease inevitably creates anxiety around these issues. Most people fear the process of dying more than death itself: being in pain, being unable to make decisions about their medical care, being separated from loved ones. Each of these serious concerns can be addressed by your medical team. Anxiety about death is actually reduced when the possibility of death is faced in a direct and supportive manner. A consultation with palliative care at the cancer centre is an excellent resource and can help you deal with the day-to-day realities of living with your diagnosis and maintaining a good quality of life.
Consider Life Priorities
Cancer changes your life: your body image, energy, time, future plans. Take the realities of the disease into account in planning your life. Live as fully as you can, while you do what you can to mitigate the damage it does. Trivialize the trivial, get rid of unnecessary obligations, and extract the most joy and satisfaction you can out of what matters to you in your life: important projects, people who matter, helping others. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
Strengthen Relationships With Your Loved Ones
Use the time you have to enrich family relationships and enjoy the people you love. Discuss problems openly, and be clear with your family about what you need and want from them. At the same time, be prepared to offer help to them in dealing with your illness.
Create a Team
A good relationship with your healthcare team is based on three main issues: communication, control and caring. Be clear with your doctors about what you want from them. Participate in treatment decisions, and become informed about the choices you have. Find healthcare professionals that you can relate to on a personal level and let them know how much you appreciate their care and support.
Actively practice relaxation techniques. It will make a real difference in your life. Cancer and its treatment can be stressful for people with cancer and their caregivers. Simple breathing techniques, gentle massage or yoga and many other other mind/body practices can help calm your mind and sharpen your ability to cope with difficulties.