- Question from susan: But shouldn't husbands go to support groups, too?
- Answers - David Spiegel Yes and there are a few groups for husbands. They can be very helpful. One husband said this is a place where I come to feel better about feeling bad. And many men just sort of don't know how to handle it. They don't know what to do or where to go to talk about it. For them, one of the problems is that cancer seems to trump everything else. Husbands have a whole host of problems all by themselves too and I think it can be helpful if they can find a good group with other spouses.
- Marisa C. Weiss, M.D. Dr. Spiegel, do you have any helpful tips on dealing with some of the stress that these feelings create in many of these women?
- David Spiegel I think one way to make stress more manageable is first identify what is causing the stress, so rather than keeping things vague or running from it, ask yourself what it is. Make it a specific fear about something. And then try and find something you can do about some aspect of it, because one component of stress is the existence of the stressor--the cancer or angry boss or something else. The other is the sense of helplessness to not be able to do anything about it. If you can feel a way to address it, it will make you less stressed.
- Marisa C. Weiss, M.D. When women don't feel like themselves anymore, it is hard for them to assert themselves and sort of "be yourself". So another practical piece of advice would be to try to find those times, places or people to be with in which you can feel like yourself, and once you get a good glimpse of yourself again feeling like yourself or looking like yourself, that can be very reassuring. It will probably help you feel less helpless.
- David Spiegel Many people find that learning self-hypnosis can be a useful way of managing stress. Hypnosis is a form of highly focused attention. Like getting so caught up in a good movie or novel that you forget that you are reading a novel or watching a movie. You can disassociate the physical stress response from dealing with the issue. Some people might want to find a good psychologist or psychiatrist that has expertise in hypnosis.
- Marisa C. Weiss, M.D. Many of the techniques like hypnosis, meditation, etc., involve skills that you can learn and then use on your own. You can look at them as your tool kit to help you with difficult moments.
On Wednesday, October 18, 2000, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Feelings about Breast Cancer. David Spiegel, Ph.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about the emotional effects of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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