Take a Mental Break: Psychosocial Issues and Women's Cancers
Mike Hennessy, Sr.
Psychosocial concerns— the mental, emotional, social and spiritual effects of cancer — occur at diagnosis, during treatment and throughout life after the disease. It’s these side effects that often go unspoken and linger in the minds of those affected.
But patients and survivors don’t have to suffer in silence. In this special issue of CURE®, we address the psychosocial needs of women who have a gynecologic cancer. Four women take us along as they share some of their innermost feelings: One woman describes the fear of leaving a young daughter motherless; another recounts being a newlywed thrown into a cancer world that robbed her of children and her sex drive. Their stories serve as inspiration for others who may be sitting quietly with feelings of anxiety, depression, fear of the future and isolation that prevent them from seeking help. If that describes you, seek out women who have been down the same path and found comfort through advocacy, exercise, meditation and support groups. Take these steps to clear your mind — even for just a brief period.
Also inside, a feature story examines treating ovarian cancer like a chronic disease. Many people refer to ovarian cancer as a silent killer; however, innovative medications, such as targeted therapies, are adding years to the lives of patients with advanced disease. Health care professionals are also turning to palliative, or supportive, care to help women living with the disease mitigate symptoms and improve their quality of life.
And meet three sisters whose extensive family history of breast and ovarian cancer dates to 1860. The study of their family and seven others helped researchers isolate the BRCA mutation, which has since influenced genetic testing, therapies and preventive surgeries for many people and will affect future generations. In an interview with CURE®, these women reveal their BRCA status, offer advice for others and explain why asking questions about family health history is crucial.
This issue also covers the unmet sexual health needs of women with gynecologic cancer, reflections on life after two prophylactic surgeries and the importance of painkiller use even during a national opioid crisis.