There are so many medical and emotional issues for a person to deal with after a brush with cancer, stroke or any health crisis that it is a real-life challenge for anyone who has gone through these physically and emotionally over-whelming and often life-changing experiences.
I will not speak to the medical side, as I am not a physician, but as a Psychologist, I can share from my experiences what challenges and options a person has after experiencing such a potentially devastating life challenge.
At first, it is expected that all our thoughts and energies are going to be focused on dealing with whatever crisis we experienced, but I cannot stress enough how critical it is to gradually but earnestly divert more and more energy into productive and meaningful activities of life, even if done with some adjustments necessary due to the health issues. Otherwise, it is easy for a person to become paralyzed with fear and give-in to dwelling on the negative. Fear and anxiety sets in and if not checked, depression will attack self-esteem.
Clients have expressed to me that they just do not have the energy, creativity or ability to do what they were doing before. One of my recent clients, who was the most creative person I know, and had published books, given seminars and was never with a lack of energy, had gone through a health crisis which left her exhausted. I appreciated her body needing time to heal, but her creative energy had given way to negative thoughts, dwelling and obsessing, which exhausted her creative side. I had to remind her that there was no lack of energy, or creativity, but that all the energy was going to negative thoughts and fears. She was afraid not to think about her health for fear she would miss something. She is now gradually diverting some of that energy into her writing, and it will make all the difference. You cannot ignore the physical symptoms or not be more careful about health, but you can walk and chew gum at the same time.
So if one takes the route of making changes in his or her life, to re-claim or re-purpose where and what he or she can do to be productive and creative, there is a very good chance of experiencing a rewarding post-trauma life.
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist/Emeritus/Coach