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Behavior Therapy and Breast Cancer

I am strongly advocating that along with any cancer diagnosis, a person should be given immediate access to behavior therapy.
04/04/2016 01:01pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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For many people who have ever faced a breast cancer diagnosis, the mental toll may be so much greater than any of the physical aspects with which one has to deal. For me, the fear and anxiety and stress are the first things that come to mind when I think of my own diagnosis on not only one but two occasions. First of all, a patient has to deal with all of the uncertainty of what they may have to face with testing, further diagnoses, surgery, post op and any and all subsequent treatments and follow up reassessments that will last for years. Then comes the anxiety of having to share the info with family and friends and all of those in one's personal circle. This can be particularly detrimental to the patient if the person to whom they are the closest can't handle the diagnosis and departs on a physical and/or mental level. The loss of what one would hope would be their primary supporter will cause more damage than what could possibly be measured on any scale and may be far more detrimental than the physical outcome.

Next comes the stress and anxiety for the patient regarding how this will affect their jobs and corresponding household income. Even under the best of circumstances, there will be lots of paperwork to do in order to receive financial assistance and in dealing with coverage of job duties in the workplace. But, for those who may be the primary or sole provider for a household whose future employment may be on the line if they need to step away from their work, particularly if they are not eligible for financial assistance, the matter becomes complicated. If they opt for the recommended treatments and necessary recovery time, they may place themselves in a financial position where they lose everything and may not even have enough money for food, etc. let alone for medication and transportation for treatment, etc. In such cases, it becomes very likely that the patient will choose not to seek treatment and just continue on to the best of their ability until someone else can provide for the family or until they die.

Now consider that at this point we have only addressed the immediate matters that one may face. There will be all of those attached to running the household, taking care of the family needs on all levels, engineering doctor's visits and those to treatment centers, etc. as the list goes on and on. But, no matter the severity of the situation, there will be an immediate mental toll on the patient and all who are or will become involved with that patient on so many levels. And no matter how successful the treatment may be, even those who are given a clean bill of health somewhere down the line, there is always a fear lingering that the cancer will return.

Therefore, I am strongly advocating that along with any cancer diagnosis, a person should be given immediate access to behavior therapy. As always, I have done some research and found a site that gives an analysis of what behavior therapy is, the various arenas in which it provides assistance far beyond what I had imagined and why, in my estimation and assessment, every single cancer patient will benefit with this addition to their treatment regimen. I know that I would have definitely benefited from behavioral therapy, as would my primary caregiver and any other members of my immediate household, if I had them. I believe that we need to find out from our medical team if such programs are available to us and how we may become participants. And if they do not exist in our immediate area at this time, this just might be one of the best ways that we can work to help others, in the future, who are diagnosed so that they have such a program available to them.