While there are statistics to support a decline in the number of lung cancer related deaths, many cancer patients, especially those who smoke, continue to learn of the news that lung cancer is their fateful diagnosis. As a smoker who has been diagnosed with lung cancer, there are, no doubt, a variety of emotions and thoughts racing through your head. In an effort to provide the support needed, it is important to understand the emotions that are to be expected when you have been diagnosed with lung cancer after many years of a smoking history.
With any cancer diagnosis, whether lung or not, it is natural to wonder and dream about what your life would be like had different lifestyle choices been made. With a lung cancer diagnosis, you will require not only the services of a good team of medical professionals but also a good team of mental health professionals.
As common complication among lung cancer patients with a history of smoking, is the psychological complication commonly referred to as “Smoker’s Guilt”. With the diagnosis of lung cancer, you may feel angry at yourself, angry at those around you and even angry at the tobacco and cigarette industry. These are normal feelings and emotions. Understanding the powerful addiction of cigarettes, the personal issues that may have driven you to smoke and the social issues of smoking, are all your first steps in recovery, offering an opportunity to begin acceptance and healing.
Psychological counseling is a necessary part of lung cancer therapy. Focusing on the treatment needed, learning to manage stress differently, eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and finding healthy venues in which to express emotions, are all part of your mental health treatment. Because there is a powerful connection between the brain, our emotions and our health, it is vital that you take part in the healing of your psyche as you venture into the healing of your lungs and your body.
Support groups for lung cancer patients can provide key opportunities to reduce your mortality rate associated with the lung cancer diagnosis. In addition to support groups, it is important that you also engage, strongly, in a smoking cessation program. While many lung cancer patients continue to smoke, you should focus on ways in which to discontinue smoking. Because your lung cancer therapy is working to improve your health, and potentially place the cancer into remission, the continuation of smoking will only serve to complicate your health and place you into risk for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular complications.
As with any cancer diagnosis, it is important to understand that lung cancer will create a new outlook on your life, both physically and psychologically. In terms of your mental health, it is important to take your lung cancer diagnosis and work to avoid spiraling into the “smoker’s guilt” mentality and, instead, focus on the ways in which you can improve your health and, possibly, reverse the complications associated with this disease.