The fight against cancer is never easy

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Approximately 39.6 percent of men and women in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes, says the National Cancer Institute. According to Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health and Physician General and a former doctor at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, 78,000 people per year in Pennsylvania are diagnosed with cancer.

For those affected, there is no shortage of cancer treatment options in central PA. A cancer support team can help men and women who have been diagnosed with cancer fight their disease and handle its side effects. Supportive family, friends and medical professionals can help many people cope with the emotional and physical effects of cancer.

Counselors/therapists

The support of a mental health professional can help cancer patients cope with the psychological impact that their disease can have. Some therapists are specially trained to treat those diagnosed with cancer. Doctors may recommend that their patients seek help with managing the emotions that can arise after a cancer diagnosis, such as depression, anxiety and confusion.

Oncology social workers

Certain counselors help individuals better understand their health care system and options concerning treatment. Questions regarding how to pay for care and if insurance can cover it can be a major source of stress for those with long-term illnesses like cancer. These specialty social workers can help patients navigate the system and learn what to expect.

Support groups

Groups offer support in various ways. Simply knowing there are others out there in similar situations can help individuals feel as though they are not alone in their fight against cancer. Hope Lodge in Hershey provides a supportive and nurturing home-like environment for adult cancer patients and their caregivers when they have to travel for treatment.

Support groups can be as formal or informal as patients prefer. Such groups may simply be a group of friends who gather regularly to chat. However, there are some organizations designed specifically to provide support for cancer patients. Peer-led groups are facilitated by group members. Professionally-led groups are typically overseen by a trained medical professional. Groups may meet in person or be available through online social networks. American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery is a program that helps women cope with breast cancer through one-on-one peer support. Call 800-227-2345 for more information.

Some support groups may be designed for specific people, including the relatives of people with cancer, spouses, people of certain age groups, and any combination thereof.

Medical staff

Qualified and compassionate oncologists, nutritionists, physical therapists, nurses, and others can make cancer treatment a little easier to swallow. Find staff who are professional and knowledgeable, but also empathetic.

Friends and family

Of course no cancer support team would be complete without close friends and family members. These are the people who cancer patients must rely on to accompany them to appointments, run errands and offer comfort when needed.

The fight against cancer is never easy, but the right support team can alleviate some of the stressors and burdens.