“Roll with the punches. Tomorrow’s another day.”

Remember these famous lines from the 1996 Hollywood blockbuster Jerry Maguire? The movie was based on the real life of sports agent Leigh Steinberg and won star Tom Cruise the Golden Globe for best actor and the 1997 MTV Movie Award for best male performance. They are inspiring words to live by, and the movie tells a story about how someone who has fallen from grace can make a comeback.

Cancer is a lesson for the patient as well as the caregivers.  It is a life-changing experience. Anyone who has suffered or seen a loved one suffer from cancer knows the true meaning of anxiety, fear, and depression. So, let’s see how taking some alternative ways to fight the situation can be helpful. 

A Life-Altering Experience

Along with the physical symptoms of this dreadful disease, mental and emotional distress is a lot to take in. And it is not just the victim but the families and the caregivers who all feel a surge of inexplicable emotions that can destroy self-esteem and confidence. But every battle brings out its warriors. And it is not always just conventional medicines but the help and care of family and the mental strength of the patient that can change their destiny.

Immediate Psychological Effects of Cancer Diagnosis

Other than the physical changes caused by the disease, cancer creates a complex array of emotions in a person and demands lifestyle changes. The National Cancer Institute has listed a lot of emotions, from denial and anger to hope and fear, that can be spotted in a patient after their diagnosis.

These are unavoidable, no matter how overwhelming they may be.

Perception of Time

This is the most immediate and noticeable impact that a person diagnosed with cancer will notice. For the patient and caregivers alike, it means questioning the length of your life and your time together. This is because cancer and the thought of death are inter-related. Quite naturally, it can be frustrating for a person who is suffering or who is close to the patient. Once the initial stage of acceptance is over, you learn to appreciate each moment more and stop living for the future. You make every day count because that is what battling cancer is – fighting each day, one at a time.

Appreciation of the Simple Things

Many of us take our lives for granted when we perceive it on a day-to-day basis. Something as shattering as cancer can push you to develop a deeper appreciation for the simple things in life, which we mostly take for granted. A change of priorities is bound to happen thanks to the uncertainty that comes with this catastrophe. In these challenging times, you stop putting things off until tomorrow and value relationships more, according to the Cancer.Net Editorial Board.

Growth of Support and Compassion

As a person who has seen someone close to them suffer or pass away, or someone who has won the battle against cancer, you will become more compassionate and will likely share your thoughts to help those fighting a similar battle.

As a caregiver, comfort and emotional support are the greatest gifts you can give to someone suffering. The problem with this disease is that it is unpredictable. Each case of cancer is different. The experience of each cancer patient is also different, even if they are suffering similar types. In such moments having compassion and taking a realistic approach is the best solution.

Complementary Methods to Manage Cancer

For a patient the caregiver is the central figure of mental support. Along with running their errands, keeping them motivated, and the regular doctor appointments, taking some complementary therapies is sometimes necessary to boost the sufferer’s confidence. These treatments may not cure the cancer itself, but they will help the sufferer cope with the side-effects of the disease, such as pain and anxiety, and improve their quality of life. According to the American Cancer Society, this approach is called “Integrative therapy”.

1. Natural Health Products

The Canadian Cancer Society talks about NHPs, or natural health products, that include vitamins, minerals, herbs, and many other homeopathic preparations as part of complementary cancer therapy. However, just because they are natural does not mean they do not have any side effects.  Therefore, consulting a complementary therapy practitioner is mandatory.

Some NHPs work well with conventional treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, while others do not work at all. Some NHPs may provide some relief in your treatment phase but may cause toxic side effects as a reaction to your regular treatment.

The good news is that most NHPs are closely monitored by Health Canada’s Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate to make sure that they are safe and effective for use.

2. Garden Therapy

This may seem like a rather unconventional approach to cancer, but the American Cancer Society puts a lot of importance on staying active during and after treatment. Surprisingly, a well-landscaped garden can be a great help in this case. The National Centre for Biotechnology Information emphasizes the role of nature in providing physical and psychological space required for the well-being of a cancer victim.

And it is not just about providing solace for the sufferer; the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has gone as far as to claim home gardening as an effective cancer therapy. Even last year researchers from Ohio State University and the University of Alabama provided some detailed data on the significant benefits of gardening, especially for mesothelioma survivors.

And it is not very difficult to pull off either. Some wicker patio furniture here, an awning there, and your outdoor space can function as the perfect refuge. You can design it the way you like as the entire backyard is your canvas. There is just as much variety in shading as there is in decorative furniture sets. With so many options in landscaping available today, from colourful patio umbrellas to shade sails, setting up an inspiring outdoor space is easy.

3. Aromatherapy

Using fragrant oils for a calming sensation is what aromatherapy is famous for. Natural scents, like lavender-infused oils, can be massaged into the skin to provide relief from nausea, pain, and stress. Even though it is a safe option, there can be allergic reactions.  For instance, a cancer patient who is estrogen sensitive, like a breast cancer sufferer, should not go for lavender or tea tree oil.

Cancer is not just a disease that makes the patient suffer but a traumatizing event for the entire family. But the fight is definitely on, as the number of survivors is on the rise, along with the number of people suffering. In the end, there is always going to be the fear of losing this battle. But, as the song by Lenny Kravitz goes, “it ain’t over’til it’s over.”