Doctors say that the patient’s family must be closely involved in what is happening. Although many types of cancer can now be diagnosed at an early stage and successfully treated, the very idea of having cancer often renders people unable to listen to reason and make informed decisions.
“When left to face the disease alone, people often lose courage. The patient’s family should provide enormous emotional support, and very much depends on this,” Panarina said.
At the same time, cancer patients often suffer from the unavailability of professional psychological help, which is not included in the national cancer treatment routines financed by the government. A therapist could help cancer patients accept their condition and take a reasoned approach to treatment, and later adapt to normal life when the treatment is over. In this respect, Russia lags behind developed countries such as Germany.
“Russian healthcare standards provide the required cancer tests and surgery,” she said. “But what next? How about post-treatment observation and support, or psychotherapy? None of this is provided. A woman emerges from a clinic after breast surgery and has no idea how to deal with the enormous stress she is under. She needs to be prepared, psychologically. Someone needs to explain to her how to live with it.”
Non-profit cancer foundations often come to the patient’s rescue in such a situation. Psychologists who work for these foundations have been trained in special techniques to help these patients.
“Even if a patient believes they are strong and confident enough to go through this and survive alone, this does not always happen. It is better to have some form of guidance. Someone has to explain what the patient and their family need to do and how to behave,” Borisov said.