Psychosocial Oncology

Psychosocial oncology is geared towards helping patients and families maintain emotional well-being and cope with the stresses associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Facing a serious illness such as cancer can be very distressing. At CTRC, help is available for any patients or family member having difficulty coping with the illness or treatment. The staff in Psychosocial Oncology has expertise in providing supportive care and assistance through this difficult time.

Psychosocial care is an integral part of cancer treatment. We are committed to working with patients to develop an individualized treatment plan that optimizes their ability to deal with their illness. We work closely with the oncologists, nurses, social workers, and other CTRC clinical staff to provide comprehensive, individualized care.

Counseling

Individual Counseling
Individual counseling can help manage anxiety, depression, stress, loss of control, and anger. This may include working with you to identify fears, deal with uncertainty and build new ways of coping.

Couples / Family Counseling
The experience of cancer affects everyone in the family. Family members who feel confused or distressed may also benefit from support. Counseling for couples can help you and your partner deal with relationship problems that can arise as a result of illness.

Diagnosis of Your Cancer

Coping with the diagnosis
Learning that you or someone you love has cancer usually gives you a feeling that your world is being turned upside down. Everything in life may suddenly feel out of control. This is because you did not choose cancer. Your initial thoughts may be "How could this have happened to me?" and "How will I get through this?" A cancer diagnosis is shocking and overwhelming. However, the prognosis of certain cancers continues to improve and the chance of being cured continues to increase. Some practical things that you can do to help during this time include the following:

  • Learn as much as possible about your disease.
    At times, ignorance or a lack of understanding is your worst enemy. Arm yourself with information in order to lessen frustration. Do not hesitate to ask questions about your disease. You may wish to keep a notebook with all of the medical records and information about your diagnosis; sometimes, you can be too numb or too upset at the hospital and realize later that you forgot everything the physician said.

  • Keep a journal of your feelings about your disease and the impact on your life. 
    As time goes on, you may be able to look back and see that things are improving.

  • Learn about your health benefits so that you understand what expenses will be covered by insurance. 

  • Continue doing your usual, daily activities. You will still have grocery shopping, laundry, and going through the mail to do on a daily or weekly basis. Having some of these "regular" activities will help you cope and feel more in control.

  • Take care of your family relationships. Although your primary focus is on your cancer, it is important to also spend time as you normally would with your family, friends, and spouse. It is healthy to have fun together. Relieving stress and strengthening family relationships will allow you to cope better with your disease.

  • Utilize the support groups in the area, as well as national support groups and their resources. Find out about supportive services available at the hospital to help you cope, such as the availability of social workers and/or meeting with other families. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Each family's need for support is unique. Friends and family members will often ask, "Is there anything I can do to help?" Consider saying "yes" to this question and ask them to pick up your groceries, help with the laundry or housecleaning, pick up your children from their extracurricular activities, or make dinner. "Assigning" a friend or family member something to do to help you will also help them feel like they are contributing. 

  • Avoid emotionally draining situations. Sometimes, well-meaning friends and family members will say the worst possible thing at the time of a cancer diagnosis. They truly want to help or be supportive, but sometimes do not know how to respond. Their words may hurt you or disappoint you, even though that was not their intention. You must realize that people will not know what your needs are unless you tell them. Sometimes, it is simply easier to be forthright and tell someone "I would just like you to sit quietly with me and keep me company" or "I need to spend some time alone right now." Do not be afraid to express your needs during this time.

    Other people may want to talk to you about their experiences with cancer. They may believe that they are being helpful to you, but instead may be making your situation feel even more overwhelming. It is important for you to avoid these discussions if they are not helping you. It is healthy to be "selfish" and ask for what you need, as well as what you do not need during this time.

  • Share what you have learned. You will have important knowledge and skills that you learn as you experience your illness. You could help others and their families by sharing your experiences in a support group or other setting.

    More information on palliative or supportive care (versus cure) and how to deal with end-of-life decisions, grief and related matters is available in the attached document:End of Life & Supportive Care.pdf

Contact Us
Phone: (210) 450-5570
Location
7979 Wurzbach Rd.
Grossman Building, 2nd Floor
San Antonio, Texas 78229