Just Diagnosed? Here’s What You May Be Feeling
Stomach cancer accounted for most cancer deaths in the 20th century in America. In 2022, however, it only accounts for about 1.5% of cancer diagnoses. Though that’s good news, a diagnosis of stomach cancer still might leave you feeling anxious, uncertain, and overwhelmed.
Suffering from stomach cancer can cause a wide range of feelings you aren’t used to dealing with. It also makes existing feelings and emotions seem more intense. It’s normal for your feelings to change hourly, daily, and even minute to minute, especially after being diagnosed.
The personality you grow up with influences how you cope with stomach cancer. For example, some individuals:
- Feel they should be strong and protect their families and friends
- Seek mental support from stomach cancer survivors or loved ones
- Turn to their faith for help
- Seek help from experts like counselors
Knowing ahead of time how you might feel can help you cope.
Worry and Fear
It’s scary to find out you have stomach cancer. You might get worried or afraid of:
- Looking different or feeling sick
- Being in pain either from the illness or treatment
Some fears about stomach cancer are often based on rumors, stories, or inaccurate information. Getting informed can help you cope with your worries and fears. Most people feel better and are less worried when myths are debunked and they understand what to expect.
Studies prove that when patients are well informed about their diseases and treatment, they’re more likely to stick to their treatment routine and recover more quickly than those who aren’t.
It’s normal to feel that your life is out of control when you’re diagnosed with stomach cancer. This might be because:
- You feel lonely and helpless.
- You don’t feel like engaging in your hobbies.
- You don’t understand the medical jargon used by your doctor.
- Your daily routine gets disrupted by medical treatment and doctor visits..
- You’re worried about your life.
Even if you might feel out of control, there are ways to control it:
- Learn more about stomach cancer.
- Ask your doctor questions.
- Don’t be afraid to point out where you aren’t understanding.
Stress and Anxiety
After diagnosis, it’s normal to get stressed over the life changes you’ll go through. Anxiety means you’re extra worried, tense, and can’t relax. You might notice that:
- You find it hard to concentrate.
- You sleep too little or too much.
- You feel weak, shaky, and dizzy.
- You have diarrhea.
- You have muscle pains or headaches.
- Your heart beats faster.
People cope with stress differently. Some abuse drugs, leading to co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders or dual diagnosis.
Stress keeps your body from healing. So, if you’re stressed, ask your doctor to suggest a counselor. The key is to find a way to control your anxiety and stress and not let them control you. It could help if you take a class that teaches how to handle stress.
Anxiety and stress have some common symptoms but some may be due to treatment or medicine. Consult your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.
It’s normal to ask, “why me?” and get angry at your condition. You might also be angry with your healthcare providers, loved ones, and healthy friends. If you’re religious, you might even feel angry with God.
Anger arises from feelings that are hard to show. They include:
You don’t have to pretend that everything is OK, but it isn’t healthy to harbor anger. Talk about your anger with your loved ones or consult a counselor.
Sadness and Depression
Many stomach cancer patients feel sad. They might feel a sense of loss for their health and life before contracting the illness. You might continue to feel sad even after you complete treatment. This is a common reaction, especially to a serious illness.
It might take time to accept the changes that are taking place. For example, you might have little energy, lose appetite, or feel tired whenever you’re sad. For some, these feelings lessen or go away with time.
For others, these feelings might grow stronger and become depression. Depression is a treatable medical condition, however, if you seek treatment and don’t dismiss it as the blues.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
A stomach cancer diagnosis is life-changing and often frightening. You might feel overwhelmed and might not know how to deal with the fear and uncertainty.
Some people don’t want to face these feelings at all, so they look for ways to avoid them. This could include using drugs and alcohol to change the way they’re feeling.
Using these substances could make you forget things. But this forgetfulness is only temporary. When you become sober again, you’ll remember the negative emotions surrounding your diagnosis and might feel worse because you’ve gotten drunk or high to try to forget them.
Or, when the feelings of being drunk or high fade, you might use more alcohol or drugs to recapture these feelings. If you do this enough, you could become dependent on the substances. You could also become so accustomed to alcohol or drugs that you need to consume more to change the way you feel.
Doing this regularly can lead to substance abuse or addiction. Addiction causes physical and mental problems. If you already have cancer, an addiction complicates and endangers your health even further.
Fear and uncertainty are normal reactions to being diagnosed with a serious illness. But by talking with your doctor and mental health professionals, you can find healthier ways to cope with such emotions and others.
A diagnosis of stomach cancer can create a sense of hope, and not unreasonably because:
- Identifying the problem is a relief because it makes successful treatment possible.
- The annual rate of death from stomach cancer in the United States is 2.9 per 100,000, less than one-third of diagnosed cases (7.2).
- 70% of people diagnosed with stomach cancer before it spreads to other organs survive for at least five years. (If it has spread, the survival rate drops to 32.4%.)
A person with stomach cancer can lead an active life, even during treatment.
Here are some helpful ways to help build your hope:
- Listen to testimony from people with stomach cancer who are leading active lives.
- Reflect on your spiritual beliefs.
- Spend time in nature.
- Think of, talk with others about, or write down reasons to be hopeful.
- Don’t limit your activities just because you have stomach cancer
- Plan your daily schedule.
- Join a stomach cancer support group. It’s a safe space to share experiences with others in a similar condition. .
Debbie’s Dream Foundation is a non-profit organization willing to raise awareness about stomach cancer and provide support and education to families, caregivers, and patients. In addition, the organization aims to make the cure of stomach cancer a reality. So, if you’ve been diagnosed with stomach cancer at any stage, contact us ASAP.
- cancer.org – Key Statistics About Stomach Cancer
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Informing Patients
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Current Management and Future Strategies of Gastric Cancer
- sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Recovery in a Quiet and Welcoming Environment
- health.harvard.edu – Understanding the stress response
- seer.cancer.gov – Cancer Stat Facts: Stomach Cancer
- seer.cancer.gov – Cancer Stat Facts: Stomach Cancer
- researchgate.net – Finding Hope and Healing When Cure Is Not Possible
- researchgate.net – Positive Attitude Can Change Life
A Message From Our CEO
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.