It is currently estimated that at least one in four readers of this article will die of cancer. This rather simple statistic leads rational readers to consider such cause of their death as quite likely. As a result, some of us will make conscious efforts to follow certain lifestyle that could potentially minimize the above risk. The fact is that we are not able to influence the vast majority of known factors that contribute to our individual risks of developing cancer, not mentioning the causes that still remain unknown. Despite the progress made in medical oncology in the last two decades, many of us will receive a death sentence long before it will be actually carried out. Unlucky diagnosis of certain malignancies, or other currently untreatable and unmanageable conditions, can constitute such a sentence for many of us. In such moments, support that we receive from those that surround us is of exceptional importance. Some of us consider doctors to be oracles, and we can often be inclined to perceive capabilities of physicians as superhuman; at the right moment, a nurse can transform into an angel of hope.
In such life and death circumstances, psychologists – as people thought to be able to soothe the souls of the afflicted and fuel their hearts with positivity – become the bearers of hope for the sick, as well as their families. Many psychologists have dedicated their entire careers to helping people diagnosed with cancer. They have even developed a new field of expertise that deals with topics such as the links between cancer progression and psychological factors. This emerging discipline is called “psycho-oncology”.
More in my article coauthored with Dr T. Witkowski and published in “Science-Based Medicine”