Emotional and Social Isolation
An unfortunate side effect of enduring the cancer experience is feeling isolated and choosing to withdraw socially and emotionally from the outside world. This could be a result of voluntarily choosing to isolate oneself from others or the inability of one’s social circle to provide the kind of help and support a patient may need or want throughout the cancer experience. It’s important for patients to know that additional avenues for support are always available to address their needs. For starters, establishing a support network is a great way for patients to receive continual support, encouragement and guidance throughout the span of their cancer care. This network can include friends and family members, the medical care team, spiritual advisers and close associates. Having a support network in place not only promotes health and wellness for patients touched by cancer but it enables them with a support system to help them manage treatment, navigate through sudden health concerns and challenges, and provides an additional resource for making important life and health related decisions.
Joining a support group can be very helpful for patients who are going through periods of emotional or social isolation because it gives them the opportunity to connect with others who may be enduring a similar experience. Through participating in a support group, patients have the chance to engage and share with other individuals going through a similar health experience. It can be tremendously useful for patients seeking advice and suggestions on incorporating healthier ways to cope with emotional withdrawal. If a patient doesn’t feel comfortable joining a support group, speaking to a social worker or psychologist can be beneficial for patients who would prefer a more personalized approach to support.
Ideally, all patients should have a network in place that supports them through the course of their cancer treatment and recovery. Emotional or social isolation can arise if patients withdraw or suppress their feelings to spare the burden of receiving support from loved ones or close companions. However, by utilizing a support network, patients will be able to gain support throughout the spectrum of their cancer care and better manage and cope with the adjustments that follow life after cancer treatment. For more information on what types of services are available to patients touched by cancer at the Simms/Mann – UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, click here.