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12835539The emotional journey through head and neck cancer is a life-changing experience for most patients. However, it is not just the person with cancer who struggles with emotions. If you have a parent, grandparent, sibling or another adult in your life who has been diagnosed with head and neck cancer, you are likely experiencing strong emotions as well. That is normal. Cancer is a physical illness, but it also takes an emotional toll. There is a direct connection between a patient’s coping strategy (the way a person handles fear and stress) and their cancer treatment outcomes. In fact, patients who are able to keep a more positive frame of mind and maintain a sense of hope and purpose during their treatment and recovery often have better outcomes.1Cardenal V, Cerezo MV, Martinez J, et al. Personality,emotionsand coping styles: predictive value for the evolution ofcancer patients. Span J Psychol. 2012 Jul;15(2):756-767.

More doctors are recognizing the importance of emotional support for cancer patients and their families. More than 90 percent of cancer patients and their families have high levels of distress that are directly related to diagnosis and treatment. Sixty percent of cancer patients and about half of their family members experience high levels of depression and anxiety.2Rosenberger C, Hocker A, Cartus M, et al. Outpatient psycho-oncological care for family members and patients: access, psychological distress and supportive care needs. Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol.2012 May;62(5):185-194. Epub 2012 May 7. These emotional issues can affect how your loved one responds to treatment.

Put simply, cancer patients and caregivers who receive emotional support and psychological care have better outcomes than those who do not.1, Cardenal V, Cerezo MV, Martinez J, et al. Personality,emotionsand coping styles: predictive value for the evolution ofcancer patients. Span J Psychol. 2012 Jul;15(2):756-767.2Rosenberger C, Hocker A, Cartus M, et al. Outpatient psycho-oncological care for family members and patients: access, psychological distress and supportive care needs. Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol.2012 May;62(5):185-194. Epub 2012 May 7. Therefore, it is extremely important to be aware of your emotional state and to get help handling your emotions if you need it. You can help your loved one handle his or her cancer journey better if you are mentally healthy as well.

As a teenager, you’re being pulled in a million different directions. You have a social life, you have a school life and you have a family life. It’s important to keep a balance.David S. (son of tonsil cancer survivor)

Navigating the emotional journey

This website contains several articles about specific aspects of your emotional journey that you might find helpful. They fall into the following categories:

Understanding and Coping with Change

When a person you care about receives a diagnosis of cancer, your life can change dramatically. This section will help you to cope with (handle) the changes and emotions of cancer diagnosis and treatment is an important way for you to help yourself and your loved one during this difficult time.

How You Can Help Out

There are many ways you can help when someone you love has cancer of the head and neck. You can provide emotional support, physical assistance and more. You are important to your loved one, and you can be there for him or her during a very challenging time. You can also provide assistance to his or her main caregiver, who will need your support as well. Learn more about ways you can help in this section.

Your Emotions

Family members and friends of cancer patients try to show strength for their loved ones while dealing with their own fears and anxiety. Your emotional state can directly affect the cancer patient’s well-being, so you need to attend to your own emotional needs as well. This section includes information about coping strategies and when to seek support.


References

1 Cardenal V, Cerezo MV, Martinez J, et al. Personality,emotionsand coping styles: predictive value for the evolution ofcancer patients. Span J Psychol. 2012 Jul;15(2):756-767.

2 Rosenberger C, Hocker A, Cartus M, et al. Outpatient psycho-oncological care for family members and patients: access, psychological distress and supportive care needs. Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol.2012 May;62(5):185-194. Epub 2012 May 7.

3 Mystakidou K, Parpa E, Tsilika E, et al. Posttraumatic stress disorder and preparatory grief in advanced cancer. J BUON.2012 Jan-Mar;17(1):155-159.