Mental Podcast Show

Pancreatic Cancer and Other Fatal Malignancies

I was no stranger to cancer. Many years ago, my grandfather died of prostate cancer. My mother died of a cancer that had metastasized all her bones and organs.

I was with my wife when the oncologist told her the fatal diagnosis, pancreatic cancer. She was a biologist and was well aware of the implications of the diagnosis. She knew she would die, and so did I. I was stunned. It felt like living in a nightmare from which there was no way to awaken.

I remember the Doctor looking straight into Pat’s eyes and firmly telling her she had done nothing wrong to cause this disease. Also, he let her know she would begin powerful chemotherapy. He provided a sliver of hope that a specialized surgery might prolong her life for five years if they could achieve partial remission.

The woman I shared a life with of 50 years would pass away.

We have two adult daughters, twins that we raised together. My wife, Pat, immediately called them. It began a long period of stress, worry, and grief. We were always a close-knit family and supported each other throughout the tragic episode. They were more than supportive throughout the treatment process, including her death.

Among the many things I’ve learned about cancer is that early detection is vital. The problem is that many people ignore symptoms such as weight loss and others. Ignoring symptoms is a way of engaging in denial. For most of us, there is a fear of learning the truth. However, to be fair to everyone, sometimes symptoms are absent until it’s too late. I can honestly report that my wife and I were unaware of any symptoms until she became ill.

Pancreatic cancer and other fatal malignancies present significant health challenges. These cancers collectively contribute to millions of deaths annually because of limited treatment options.

Pancreatic cancer ranks among the most lethal types of cancer because of its subtle and often ignored early symptoms. The 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer remains dismally low, at approximately 10%.

Lung cancer, another fatal malignancy, is most often caused by smoking. However, secondhand smoke exposure, radon gas, and other environmental factors also contribute. Treatment is like pancreatic cancer, employing surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.

Liver cancer, with its 5-year survival rate of around 18%, remains a significant cause of cancer-related deaths. Liver cancer is often linked to chronic viral hepatitis, excessive alcohol consumption, and fatty liver disease.

Colorectal cancer is associated with a diet low in fiber and high in fat. Lack of regular physical activity, obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and family history. Diagnosis employs colonoscopy and biopsy.

Anticipatory grief is a term used to describe the feelings of grief and loss that arise before a person experiences an actual loss. It is a natural and normal process that occurs when we expect the death of a loved one or a significant change in our lives. This type of grief can be difficult to navigate because feelings of guilt, anxiety, and sadness often accompany it. In this essay, I will explore anticipatory grief, its causes, and ways to cope with it.

Anticipatory grief is a response to the awareness that a loss is imminent. It can occur when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness or a chronic condition, eventually leading to death. It can also occur when a significant life change is expected, such as retirement or a move to a new city. Fear of being alone, uncertainty about the future, and a changed life can all trigger anticipatory grief.

One of the most challenging aspects of anticipatory grief is the feeling of helplessness and the lack of control. When faced with an imminent loss, it is natural to want to prevent it or to ease the suffering of our loved ones. However, most times, we can do little to change the outcome. This feeling of powerlessness can lead to frustration, anger, and depression.

Coping with anticipatory grief requires a combination of strategies. These include self-care, seeking support from others, and staying connected with the person we are grieving. Self-care can include exercise, meditation, or leisure time in nature. It is also important to maintain a healthy diet and get enough sleep.

Seeking support from others can be a significant source of comfort during this difficult time. Support can include talking to family members, friends, or a therapist who can provide emotional support and guidance.

For those people who are spiritual or religious, attending services and seeking emotional help from clergy is a source of support.

Ultimately, there is no easy way to cope when a loved one becomes ill with a fatal illness. The same can be said about the volcanic emotions experienced after the loved one dies.

dransphd@aol.com

 

 

 

The post Anticipated Grief, When a Loved One Receives a Fatal Diagnosis appeared first on DocTalk, Explorations in Psychotherapy.

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