Cancer has the capacity to strike you down and drag you to the depths of incapacitation. And more often than not, this disease would take every ounce of self-esteem from your system.
But the way a person carries the disease, whether in a negative or positive way, will be reflected in how they cope. Being aware of what could happen once you are diagnosed with testicular cancer will be able to prepare you for the worst.
While others react severely, poorly to the disease, there are those who are able to pull through despite the drastic changes they had to endure.
The importance of self-image
According to Jessica M Alleva, Ph.D., “When men feel positively about their body, they are also likely to experience greater well-being. Confirming other research more broadly, feeling good about our own body – not feeling negatively or ashamed – is related to better health.”
How we perceive ourselves is very important in our daily lives for it may boost us or may depress us. One of the pitfalls of having cancer is aside from the emotional torment you have to go through is also the physical battle that you have to deal with. The way we see ourselves in the mirror affects our mental health especially if you no longer recognize the person looking back at you.
If you are a newly-diagnosed testicular cancer patient, you have to be aware that you will undergo changes pertaining to your physical and mental status. The purpose of knowing what to expect one testicular cancer worsens and you’re going through episodes of treatments is that you would be aware of how to cope with the encountered changes.
Physical image – bodily changes
Body image is the coined term for how people see themselves. Men with testicular cancer usually are self-conscious about the way they look with cancer and during the treatments. Some of the usual physical changes that men with testicular cancer will experience are:
- Lethargy or the loss of physical energy which might result in giving up the activities you used to enjoy
- Alopecia or hair loss
- Rashes caused by drug-related reactions
- Unflattering scars
- Decapitation or the surgical removal of a certain part of the body
- Gaining or losing weight
Coping strategies for severe physical changes usually include:
- Reconstructive surgery
Due to testicular cancer’s disruption to a man’s life, his activities of daily living are also affected; from his work to his hobbies and even with his relationships. The seriousness of the illness and the chances of gaining full recovery can also deeply affect a person’s perception of the future. The person would usually feel:
On flip side, not all men would feel this way. There are those who positively accept their condition and taking it peacefully and appreciatively. They feel blessed by being given the chance to see the world in a different perspective and to become close to their families. The meaning of their lives becomes clearer and their priorities line up as well.
General coping strategies
With these coping strategies that could be applied to any form of cancer, you will be able to appreciate yourself differently.
- Give yourself time to digest all the information provided by your doctor and to allow yourself to adjust to the overwhelming feeling of having testicular cancer. Whether you like it or not, you already have the illness, the least that you can do is to be kind to yourself and show compassion. Stop beating yourself and face your dilemma headstrong. During dire situations, laughter may help. “Many of my patients who have cancer have told me that their diagnosis was a blessing. Perhaps it made them slow down enough to spend more time with family or friends or just to enjoy life more,” writes Carolyn C. Ross, M.D., M.P.H.
- Confide to loved-ones and friends. Do not hesitate to let them know how you feel whether it’s anger, fear, sadness or even disgust. Letting people who love you know what you’re going through will be appreciated. Remember, you cannot do this on your own. You need people. And these people would also know what to do and how to cope. “When cancer’s emotional and physical pain makes one feel defective or alone, a place to find support, compassion, and build coping skills has the potential to go a long way,” writes Anne Moyer, Ph.D.
- Stay active. It is understandable that you can no longer be fully active and do the things you used to. However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot do minor activities. Just make sure that you keep it to a minimum so as not to exhaust yourself. By being active, you can feel good about yourself. Activities, whether physically, socially, mentally, will divert your attention to other things aside from the disease.
There’s always a way around
If the abovementioned coping strategies did not work, you can opt for counseling. Professional support is always available and will provide a lot of details on the disease and can help you become enlightened in dealing with the changes caused by testicular cancer.