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Cancer: The Bigger Picture

Cancer is more than just a disease. Grueling treatments can leave patients struggling to feel normal. The physical and emotional side effects people suffer from while undergoing treatment are a huge part of the disease. Depending on the type of cancer and treatment, a patient could experience pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anemia, swelling, hair loss, and mental cloudiness just to name a few. The emotional toll of cancer is just as high. Fear, anxiety, depression—dealing with a life threatening illness can wreak havoc on a person’s sense of self.

It can be hard to deal with the physical changes that cancer treatments cause. Depression caused by a loss of self-confidence and feelings of self-loathing is not uncommon when facing hair loss or the disfigurement that comes with a mastectomy or other necessary surgery. Fortunately there are organizations that provide support and guidance on everything from dealing with body image issues to how to find the right wig. The organization Look Good Feel Better can help women improve their self-esteem by providing hair, wig and makeup advice. Having a strong social support network of family and friends when dealing with a disease like cancer can make a huge difference. However, many cancer patients find it difficult to relate to their close friends and family and instead find comfort in a support group where they can share their experiences, concerns, frustrations, and fears with other people who are going through the exact same experience they are. For more information on local support groups in Charleston, SC visit http://www.komenlowcountry.org.

Nearly one in four people with cancer suffer from depression. Knowing the signs, such as weight fluctuations, ongoing sadness or apathy, fatigue, difficulty focusing, can help you diagnose depression in yourself or in a loved one. Encourage your loved one to seek help if you suspect they are depressed. Counseling, medication or a combination of both can often help. Seek the guidance and compassion of  a local support group or trained professional rather than suffer in silence.

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