Cancer and the psyche
Psycho-oncology is part of biological cancer therapy at the THERA Praxisklinik
Psycho-oncology describes the psychological care of people with cancer. Cancer and the psyche belong together. Because: “Cancer is a subject that you can’t get out of your head.” Especially if you are affected yourself. Cancer is a disease that changes your whole life. Cancer does something to the psyche without being mentally ill. That’s why psycho-oncology has been part of the German Cancer Society’s guidelines since January 2020. At the THERA Praxisklinik, Johanna Niermann, trained by the German Cancer Society, has been supporting our patients since 2018.
Psycho-oncology is the specialist field that deals with the psychological consequences of cancer. An illness related to a tumor calls life into question. The question: “How will my life go on with this illness?” burns itself into the soul before physical symptoms appear. This is where it becomes clearest how cancer and the psyche intertwine. Cancer is the disease that people fear the most. A disease that does not stop at a person’s lifetime or age. In 2018, 498,000 people were newly diagnosed with cancer.
What is psycho-oncology?
Psycho-oncology helps people to process, accept and cope with the diagnosis of cancer. But above all: a person with experience in dealing with cancer is dedicated to helping another person find and follow their own path. To take courage. To make decisions. Cancer is not a disease you have alone, it affects the whole environment. That’s why psycho-oncology involves the people who are part of it.
Psycho-oncology is: “when the soul is carried along”
Psycho-oncology deals with cancer and the psyche in equal measure. With the uncertainty that a life-changing illness brings with it. From the devastating shock of the diagnosis to the organization of life. In necessary situations, psycho-oncology also provides support in the organization of dying.
Cancer raises so many questions. So many things happen for the first time. How do I continue at work? How can I be there enough for my children? Who do I tell about my illness? Is this the right therapy for me? Aren’t there alternatives? And am I not actually doing quite well? And how do I actually feel?
Psychosocial support for people with a life-threatening illness does so much. Often the topic isn’t even cancer in such a session, because cancer actually affects everything.” Life with the family, opportunities at work. It often only really starts when the “therapy and illness are over”. Life has to be rediscovered with all its rules. The fears have a new name. Will “he” come back? Has the pinching always been there?
Psycho-oncology is: “when I know what I can do for myself”
Even in times when everything is different, many things remain the same. That which comforts or cheers, that which strengthens and supports becomes the greatest strength:
- Pausing for a moment
- Being able to relax
- Cultivate inner images and use them for yourself
- Making and listening to music
- Finding nature as a place of peace
- People who make you feel good
Psycho-oncology helps to bring cancer and the psyche together. Yes, that sounds strange. After all, the idea is to bring together something of which one part should not actually be there. Psycho-oncology helps you to get closer to your own questions.
- What does this cancer actually mean to me?
- Do I have something to do with the cancer?
It’s about gaining an attitude to something that is initially untenable. Finding strategies to not only find sleep, joy and relaxation despite the diagnosis of cancer, but precisely because of it. Precisely because cancer and the psyche interact, what is good for you is valuable and crucial. What do I want and what can I do? What can I trust? Knowing and respecting your own limits is essential here. Psycho-oncology makes it possible: to be held and to provide support. To get to know yourself anew in this situation. To respect and strengthen yourself in this situation.
Psycho-oncology is: “when fear doesn’t rule my life”
They exist, the monsters under the beds. The fear of cancer. There are many ways to deal with these fears. One of them is to take these fears seriously and lovingly, to respond to them and talk to them. In an inner conversation. Those affected often report that they never thought they would seek help like this. And then the situation at their mercy presses on; the fear and dealing with these fears. Where did my cancer come from? What have I done to cause this to happen to me? Unlike in many other situations, the fear here is not diffuse or difficult to comprehend. It is real and tangible.
“You won’t hear from a psycho-oncologist that everything will be all right again. But you will hear that there is a life to struggle for in all disciplines. Suddenly it becomes important to make different compromises. To face your fears differently. It’s about finding yourself anew.”
Says a patient about psycho-oncology at the Thera Praxisklinik
It is often almost unbearable that there is no one to blame for this illness. Or that no one can say whether it will continue and for how long. That there is no master plan or time frame. There are days when it’s worth ranting and letting out your anger. It is also helpful to be able to let out stress. What you can learn with the help of psycho-oncology is to have compassion for yourself. To find strength for the important things. To experience new horizons. To really love yourself from the bottom of your heart. No matter what it’s like right now.
Living with cancer in everyday life
Even when everything is going well, there is always the threat of failure. “Exhausted, emotionally overwhelmed and far from resilient” is how many sufferers feel. Their own needs no longer seem to fit in with everyday life. This fatigue continues. Psycho-oncology provides support in understanding oneself. It aims to help people cope with the situation and treat themselves with care. Psyche and cancer is a struggle for self-efficacy. A new life with inner images, with forms of letting go and centering. A reshaping of your own life that you want to lead without ifs and buts. Something that cannot be stopped.
Cancer and the psyche at THERA Praxisklinik
At THERA Praxisklinik, cancer and the psyche belong together unconditionally. We want our patients to experience psycho-oncological support in addition to the medical history interview. We want you to understand the ways of your body, learn to empathize with it and be able to influence it with your psyche. We want you to be supported in this:
- Calming yourself down and finding sleep
- Finding a way to deal with pain and discomfort
- Finding a way to deal with your own fears
- Holding and transforming worry and grief
- Being in relationship with close people
- Integrating your own effectiveness into your present life
Two psycho-oncological appointments as part of the initial anamnesis
For us, psycho-oncological care is an integral part of integrative cancer therapy. Therefore, two psycho-oncological appointments are part of our medical anamnesis and therapy planning. Johanna Niermann and her psycho-oncological counseling is an important link in our practice clinic for the effectiveness and acceptance of the chosen therapies. An unusual path in particular needs support and a place of orientation at many points.