Surviving Cancer & Depression: 4 Steps to Success (Part 2)

Surviving Cancer and Depression; 4 Steps To SuccessBy: Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos, International Bestselling Author, Breast Cancer Blogger & Cancer Hotline Counselor.

In part one of this article Depression is Deadlier than CANCER?: 7 Ways to Survive Treatment, we explored depression and cancer.

The recent suicide of actor Robin Williams has brought life and death associated with depression into our hearts and homes. It has deeply touched our lives and left us with many unanswered questions.  For those of us not suffering from depression, it was a surprise. For those of us touched by depression it was a wake-up call. For the whole world, it was a cry for help and a call to action.

Here are more facts and figures that may surprise and alarm you.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental illness is very common. One in five Americans aged 16-85 experience some form of mental illness in any year. Suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for all ages. According to (WHO), every year over 800,000 people die from suicide. That is an alarming statistic.

The most common mental illnesses are depressive, anxiety and substance use disorder. These three types of mental illnesses often occur in combination. For example, a person with an anxiety disorder could also develop depression, or a person with depression might misuse alcohol or other drugs, in an effort to self-medicate. A third combination would be incompatible pharmaceuticals that exacerbate mental illness during treatment for a physical illness.

One in two people or half the population in the world will suffer from some form of mental illness in their lifetime. One in three people will come down with some form of cancer in their lifetime. More people will have mental illness than cancer.

Cancer, like depression and many other diseases that were once considered terminal, is no longer a death sentence. It may take time and a team of experts to formulate a treatment that works for all diseases that plague our minds and bodies, but that help is available.  Knowing your options is paramount to being successful in health. The internet is a great way to connect with other patients, groups and organizations and to research information and success stories.

Success is possible.

Long-term follow-up procedures during and after any health related treatments are extremely important for keeping all diseases under control or cured.

Here are 4 steps to ensure personal success over depression during health treatments.

  1. Be an active part of your treatment team.
  2. Show up.
  3. Follow through.
  4. Focus on success.

It was not that long ago that many diseases now controllable such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, diabetes, blood pressure and heart disease were considered incurable. Now, stories of treatment success far outnumber the stories of failure. Many patients live with or beyond disease.  Decide to become one of the success stories.

Since the suicide of Robin Williams, the illness of depression has been in the news and on the minds of many cancer patients. Unfortunately, cancer and depression go together like peanut and butter. The pharmaceutical cocktail of anti-depression medication and chemotherapy can become a hair-raising roller coaster ride, if you have any hair left after chemo.

As an R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation Hotline Counselor, I mentor woman newly diagnosed with cancer who seek help through the HOTLINE’s center by calling 1-800-433-0464 and I’m pleased to say that I’ve seen a rise in the number of women talking about their depression.

Yes, you read that last line correctly

Keeping depression a secret is deadly.

Talking about depression brings a dark controlling force into the light where it can be seen and conquered. Trying to overcome depression that is kept a secret is like trying to fight an enemy that is an expert at hiding. It is shooting in the dark.

Being ashamed of depression is like being ashamed of having the flue. It’s not your fault that you have it. You did not deliberately go out and try to acquire any of these diseases.

Like life, sh#t happens. Find it. Fix it!

We are also learning that certain people are genetically predisposed to certain diseases. We are often not aware of that fact until certain tests are preformed when symptoms are displayed. Once test information is shared with us our lifestyle can be adjusted accordingly and our health monitored.

Life goes on. Statistics have proved that unhealthy diets and lifestyles can exacerbate an existing illness like cancer and depression. My book, Surviving Cancerland: Intuitive Aspects of Healing addresses this in chapter 35, The Finish Line and Depression.

There is also evidence that living a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet, plenty of exercise and good sleep and work habits and can decrease the chances of acquiring certain diseases like cancer and depression, keep them under control if they do occur, or from returning once they are cured. Ways to change diet and lifestyle are discussed in my book, Surviving Cancerland: Intuitive Aspects of Healing.

We’ve come a long way, Baby. Health care is not perfect, but it is improving and we have the statistics to prove it. Focus on that during times of trouble.

Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos Breast Cancer Authority ContributorBIO: Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos believes dreams diagnose your life. Did you have a déjà- vu or did your dream come true? Kat survived three cancers diagnosed by her dreams. International bestselling author, inspirational speaker, radio-host, columnist, blogger, Cancer Hotline Counselor; she has been featured on radio and TV, in magazines and newspapers, SURVIVING CANCERLAND: Intuitive Aspects of Healing is the first in her three book series on waking up to healing dreams. Kat taught Special Education and Psychology at (USF) University of South

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