Develop a Strong Support System

At times during the course of the disease, a patient may feel anxious and lonely, shocked and angry, or settled and in control. It is important to recognize that this rollercoaster of emotions is natural. Pancreatic cancer, and its treatment, may also create certain physical symptoms such as pain, digestive difficulties, and fatigue. If poorly controlled, these symptoms can cause distress and may lead to a poorer quality of life. A strong support system, including family, friends, clergy, and a good medical team, will help a patient deal with these different aspects of pancreatic cancer.

A patient's family and friends will be important members of a support network. Patients may find comfort in talking to their support network about emotions and physical feelings on a day to day basis. Patients may also need members of their support system to help with practical aspects of house chores and daily living during periods of his care.

Family and friends may be experiencing similar emotions and stresses to the patient. Talking openly about them can often help everyone cope with pancreatic cancer.

There may be times when patients may find comfort in writing in a journal, joining a formal support group, or seeking individual counseling. Patients may find it easier to fully express themselves in these settings. Additionally, patients may find value in talking with other individuals who are also dealing with cancer. Other patients can often validate feelings, share experiences, and provide companionship. Besides providing another source of information, support groups can provide opportunities for patients to help other people cope. Many find this process of helping other people with their care rewarding and empowering.

The medical team is also a significant part of a patient's support network. It is important for a patient to trust and be able to confide in members of his medical team. A patient should always feel comfortable discussing any aspect of his cancer with his medical team and to look for guidance on how to cope with new or chronic aspects of the disease.

Learn more about the Psychosocial Oncology Program at The Pancreas Center »
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