How can I receive assistance from the Psychology Unit?
Hospitalised patients may request a psychological consultation through their attending doctor or a nurse. They may also visit the Psychology Clinic on their own (3rd floor, room 3070) or make an appointment by phone at 61 8850 882. Similarly, patients’ families can contact a psychologist or social worker. Patients who have completed their treatment or learnt that they need to start one may arrange for a consultation with a psychologist or social worker by calling +48 61 8850 882 (between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.)
What is the purpose of psychological support during cancer treatment?
The aim of psychological therapy is to restore mental balance after the shock of cancer diagnosis and distress of the treatment to be started. The psychologist’s/psychooncologist’s task is to encourage patients to express their difficult emotions, reduce their anxiety and sorrow, and help them accept the changes caused by the disease and treatment. With that kind of support, the patient may try to identify factors that give them strength during treatment and allow them to find their place after the therapy is over (not all of our patients are able to resume their jobs…). The therapy also aims to help patients deal with the difficulties directly associated with the treatment methods used… (e.g. anxiety of radiation or specific treatments).
Are there any specific skills that a psychologist/psychooncologist can teach us?
Apart from talks about the changes caused by the disease and treatment in a specific patient (and a specific family), a psychologist/psychooncologist may also help the patient control excessive pessimism or fear of particular procedures (e.g. computed tomography in individuals suffering from claustrophobia), teach them relaxation and visualisation methods (so as to stimulate the organism through imagination to faster recovery, mitigate nausea associated with chemotherapy, etc.). A full information leaflet on emotional effects of cancer is available at the Greater Poland Cancer Centre website www.wco.pl/en/
When is it necessary to consult a psychologist/psychooncologist or psychiatrist?
Psychologist/psychooncologist and psychiatrist assistance is needed most of all when your ability to cope with every day duties is disorganised by what you experience. For example, you cry for a long time but don’t feel relieved when you stop. If you feel like there is no sense in our life, if you cannot control your irritation or anger. Also, when you fear of your health despite good effects of therapy. If you are not able to return to your way of life even though the therapy is over. If you notice particular problems that have not been typical of you: with thinking, focusing attention, etc. Psychologist consultation should also be considered, if you experience side effect of the chemotherapy even before it begins.
Is it true that one must not break down during treatment?
It is a common say that patients should be ‘brave’ and ‘should not get depressed’ as this may affect their treatment. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. Indeed, our peace of mind and self-control may help and contribute to the alleviation of treatment side effects. However, emotions that accompany the treatment (fear, sorrow) are very strong and NATURAL. Therefore, it is also important to be able to express them?
Do I have to hide my fear from those who are close to me?
If you do so, apart from the distress related to the disease, you would experience loneliness, the need to pretend that you feel good. That would make an additional burden… We wish everybody not to feel alone, to have someone to talk to in difficult moments and somewhere to find support… Family and friends certainly play a very important role in supporting the patient.
Does everyone need assistance of psychologist/psychooncologist?
At present, many of us feel embarrassed to seek support with a psychologist. Individuals of strong personality who enjoy the support of their friends and family, and those who know themselves well enough to be able to identify what helps them in difficult circumstances may not need any psychological therapy. It is important, however, to understand that having cancer is a very difficult experience and the very fact of looking for specialist assistance does not mean one cannot cope with it or is depressed. Simply, it is always worth looking for support when in a new, difficult situation, especially when there is nobody around with similar experiences.
What can I do for myself, apart from consulting with a therapist?
It is important to be able to identify your own needs. Do you want to be alone? Whom do you want to talk with about your experiences? Who do you want to take with you for the next chemotherapy, follow-up visit? Who can you expect support from and can you ask for it? Are there any people who have an adverse impact on you, for example by expressing their pity for you or giving you advice?… You should talk with your family and friends. They must learn the new situation, too; find their place in it. Even someone who loves you very much may not fully understand how you feel, for instance, after chemotherapy… Make sure that you are not alone, particularly if you see that staying home alone makes you more depressed and anxious. It might be a good idea to recall where you feel good or what you like doing to keep your thoughts away for some time from the therapy ahead of you (it’s easier when you have a passion or interests…)