Behavioral/Distress Management

What Is Distress?

Distress is a word that has lots of meaning. We use “distress” to describe unpleasant feelings or emotions that may cause problems for you as you cope with cancer and its treatment. Distress is also common in the family members and loved ones of people with cancer. It can make it harder to deal with all the changes in your life caused by cancer in someone you love.

Saying that you are distressed can mean that you feel:

  • Sad
  • Hopeless
  • Powerless
  • Afraid
  • Guilty
  • Anxious
  • Panic
  • Discouraged
  • Depressed
  • Uncertainty

The stress of dealing with cancer may affect areas of your life other than your feelings. It can affect your thoughts, your behavior, and how you interact with others.

Everything About Cancer Is Stressful

Dealing with the side effects of treatment — such as tiredness (fatigue), hair loss, weight changes, and how disrupted your life seems — is stressful. Everything about having cancer is stressful. Being upset and worried are part of it, so a certain amount of distress is expected when you find you have cancer. But sometimes distress can go from the expected level to one that interferes with your treatment, makes it hard for you to cope with the illness, and affects all parts of your life.

It is not a sign of weakness that you become so distressed that it interferes with your ability to do your usual activities. Your first line of defense in coping with distress is your doctor and cancer care team. Talk to us about how you feel. We can direct you to the help you need. Remember that we are treating YOU, not just your cancer, and we count on you to tell us exactly how you are doing and what you are feeling. Remember, no one can do that except you.

Even though most of the information here may seem like it’s for the cancer patient, it also applies to the loved ones of the person who has cancer. The people close to the person with cancer are a strong source of support, and their well-being is important, too. If you are a loved one and feel distressed, it is OK to let the cancer care team know that you need help with your distress.

At the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma every patient is periodically screened for their current level of distress. In the event you or a loved one needs a psychological or behavioral health consultation, a licensed psychologist is available by referral to meet that need.

Dr. Douglas O. Brady

Dr. Douglas O. BradyDr. Douglas O. Brady is a licensed Psychologist with over 30 years of clinical, consulting and teaching experience. He utilizes the latest neuroscience research in all of his professional work. He has recently combined the latest technology and developments with his goal of creating positive changes in the mind, body and spirit of our cancer patients. He has created a unique individualized set of downloadable MP3 files that combines the latest binaural sound wave technology with guided imagery to assist patients who are experiencing difficulty with their cancer treatment and throughout their life. These files are free and downloadable to anyone visiting this site. The CD version is also available to our patients at any Cancer Center of Southwest Oklahoma location. Under no circumstances should these audio files be listened to while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment.

The Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma would like to Thank Dr. Brady and Mr. Taylor Ferguson of Elgin, Oklahoma for their collaboration in making these files available to our patients.

Listen

Nausea, part 1
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Nausea, part 2
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Brain Renewal
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Restful and Enduring Sleep
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Stress Management
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