Southern Illinois University School of Medicine Office of Public Affairs Newsline - cancer and emotions


Radio Newsline

March 4, 2014


Cancer and emotions

A cancer diagnosis can be devastating to patients.  It not only affects them physically, but cancer also takes a toll on their emotions.

There’s lots of different emotional reactions that people can have after being diagnosed with cancer, says Patricia Fank, Psy.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield. She says every person responds differently to the diagnosis.

“ ... One might be disbelief and shock, especially toward the beginning and you know we don’t really like to believe that cancer could happen to us and our family. Other times it can turn into frustration, kind of becoming angry and questioning “Why me”? A lot of people find that they really experience fear and anxiety.”

Fank says help for the emotional journey is available to patients and their families. Patients can choose counseling for the individual, couples or families.  Support groups also are offered so patients can talk to others who have experienced cancer and really understand what they are going through.

“Support is crucial for people who have been diagnosed with cancer.  So even if the family members can’t make it to every doctor’s appointment or therapy treatment, even just being around the house to help cook or to clean or to do laundry, when the patient just doesn’t have the stamina to be able to keep up with that.”

Fank says individuals seeking support for their cancer journey should talk to their oncologist or physician and ask for a referral. They can go online to the American Cancer Society website and search for local resources.  Or they can ask their insurance company.

Ruth Slottag

Phone 217-545-8000
P.O. Box 19620
Springfield, IL 62794-9620
The mission of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine is to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health care needs through education, patient care, research, and service to the community.


Connect on FacebookMore About SIU SOM on YouTubeSIU Blogtwitter