New ways to deal with money worries help cancer patients cope with the disease

     (Cancer Support Community photo provided)

    (Cancer Support Community photo provided)

    Depression and financial worries are big issues for people who have cancer.

    It’s part of a new survey of about 12-thousand people conducted by The Cancer Support Community, an online cancer support community.

    About half of those surveyed were at risk for developing depression. But, it’s not always about fearing death says Joanne Buzaglo, the Senior Vice President of Research and Training with the Cancer Support Community.

    “We really think about it as a multi-factorial experience where we really talk about it in terms of distress,” she says.  “What is it that’s causing these high levels of distress? And it may not just be oh, I’m depressed, it may be I don’t have transportation to get to my appointments,” Buzaglo adds.

    She says it’s important to offer patients a holistic approach, whether that means offering them a social worker who can help them make a financial plan, or arrange for transport to chemo.

    Paula Finestone is a psychologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, who works with cancer patients who are struggling with anxiety and depression. She says financial worries, like the possibility of losing one’s job or access to insurance, are often top of mind. She uses mindfulness to help patients stay in the present moment.

    “If you’re so worried about what could happen, you miss out on what’s happening. And sometimes what’s happening, even in the middle of a cancer crisis, can be very beautiful,” she says.

    Finestone invites patients to savor good moments, like playing with grand-kids or spending time watching the sun go down.

    Both Finestone and Buzaglo think cancer patients need more follow up when it comes to depression, which can take a toll of a patient’s overall health.

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