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Sich um Ihre emotionalen Bedürfnisse kümmern

von NFI Redaktion

During an annual check-up in 2014, 27-year-old Kaley Karaffa casually mentioned some swollen lymph nodes she had near her collarbone for a few months. Her doctor sent her to a surgeon to have it checked out. Weeks, scans, and biopsies later, Karaffa received the news: she had diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

„I was shocked,“ she says. „I was in the best shape of my life, working out pretty intensively six or seven days a week and working full time.“ For Karaffa, it was hard to comprehend that she could feel so healthy and have blood cancer.

It was the beginning of an emotional journey that many people go through when they receive a cancer diagnosis. There are many steps you can take to control the myriad of feelings that may arise inside you.

The emotions you feel can vary from week to week, day to day, and even from hour to hour. „You may feel denial, anger, sadness, and/or confusion, as well as fear, dread, and uncertainty about what the future holds,“ says Leona Newman, senior information specialist at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You may even experience some unexpected and surprising emotions, she says, such as guilt.

For Karaffa, one way to cope with the emotional storm was to gather information. „I tried to learn as much as possible about statistical outcomes and the types of treatments I could undergo,“ she says. „It helped me feel like I was regaining control.“

Good communication with your treatment team and loved ones is extremely important. „Be honest and share your concerns, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional,“ says Newman. You will be better cared for when others know what you are going through.

Also, give yourself permission to feel exactly how you feel. Karaffa says her best strategy was to „simply acknowledge that every emotion or thought I had was valid, especially when dealing with fears.“

There is no „right“ way to react to the highs and lows of your cancer experience. Furthermore, it can often be liberating and even help you by naming and expressing your emotions as they truly are.

Offer help and support to friends and family, whether it’s a meal, household chores, or just a listening ear. Or reach out to others with your specific needs. It’s easy to feel like you’re being a burden. Avoid this trap and let your loved ones help carry the burden so you don’t have to go it alone.

Connecting with people who also have B-cell lymphoma can give you a mental boost. Karaffa maintained an online blog. She says it helped her process her feelings and connect with women who were suffering from a similar cancer.

„Even though some were around the world, they could just send a message saying, ‚Do you know how bad it really is to have sores in your mouth?‘ And knowing that they had actually experienced these kinds of side effects and fears firsthand was really helpful,“ Karaffa says.

Exercise is a natural mood lifter. Physical activity can help reduce the risk of depression. Talk to your doctor about what type of exercise you are allowed to do and take advantage of the times when you feel like it.

Hiking, yoga, swimming, and cycling are great ways to get your muscles moving and improve your mood. Karaffa says she gained a special boost from group exercise classes.

„I had the presence of trainers who knew me when I was healthy,“ she says. „They helped me focus on my physical health and encouraged me to keep my body as strong as possible despite the side effects of chemotherapy.“

Watch out for anxiety or depression. „You may be worried about the effects of cancer treatment on your health and well-being, or on your partner or family,“ says Christin Barnett, information specialist at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Other triggers include the possibility of your disease recurring, financial problems, and the need to fulfill your work duties.

Barnett says it’s time to be attentive and seek help from a psychologist if you have:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Lack of interest in daily activities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in sleep or eating habits
  • Fatigue and loss of energy most days
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Even after completing treatment for your B-cell lymphoma, it’s important to pay attention to your mental health. Karaffa’s advice for long-term: Stay updated on your skills to manage your emotional and physical health. Focus on what you can do to strengthen your health and maintain your strength, such as a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and plenty of water.

„I try to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle,“ she says. „Some days it’s about taking a 4-mile walk, and other days it’s snuggling with my dogs and husband on the couch and enjoying that. It’s about finding a balance and figuring out what you need to do in the moment.“

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