illnesses can be defeated by
People with cancer deal with too much
of what I call “New Age guilt.” This
is the notion that if you don’t think
the right way about cancer, you’ll be
contributing to your own demise.
Everyone has down periods during the
cancer experience, but from a research
perspective, authenticity appears to be a
more beneficial coping strategy than fake
I advocate survivor optimism —
that no matter what comes down the
pike, you as a couple will deal with it.
Not, “Oh, don’t worry, it’s not going to
be cancer.” Or, “Don’t worry, I’m sure
it’ll turn out great.” Having blue days
or negative thoughts is not going to kill
you, and it’s a really common part of the
How can psychologists help?
Clinicians are well situated to help
couples realize that the illness is
happening to both of them. They
can help members learn to effectively
participate in their own care. They can
also help them deal with the emotional
issues, talk about new sexual issues that
often emerge, and navigate challenges
with dependence. Should it be required,
psychologists can also be very helpful at
the end of life.
What is your life like now that
cancer has been a part of it?
When I was ill, I remember writing that
to be consumed by trivial worries is a gift
— a sign that your life is going really well.
Right now, Terry and I are consumed with
college choices and SATs, trying to get our
17-year-old daughter launched — the
Tori DeAngelis is a writer in Syracuse,
detritus of a normal life. I’m not someone
who is glad I had cancer. I would trade
all the opportunity that came with it for
a chemotherapy-free lifetime. But one
benefit of having a history of struggle is a
finer appreciation for how to approach a
particular stressor. That’s what I tried to
do with this book. n
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