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Cervical Health Awareness Month: Cancer and the Mental Health Impact

By HERWriter
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cervical cancer awareness and mental health Auremar/PhotoSpin

Staying in close contact with friends and family members is also helpful, in addition to some methods used at CTCA, like journaling, deep breathing, “mindful stress reduction,” “expressive arts” and meditation.

“Practicing mindfulness, which is the act of being intensely aware of what a person is sensing and feeling at every moment - without analysis or judgment - can help regulate emotions, improve patterns of thinking, counteract depression, enhance the immune system, decrease stress reactivity, and improve interpersonal relationships,” Vettickal said.

It can be beneficial to ask a lot of questions and stay informed about the diagnosis and treatment process. It can improve mental health when people are on top of their overall health situation.

Michelle Whitlock, the author of “How I Lost My Uterus and Found My Voice” and a two-time cervical cancer survivor, said in an email that a cervical cancer diagnosis can be especially detrimental to mental health. This is because of the stigma associated with cervical cancer and its link with HPV and sexual contact.

Some women are afraid to let others know about their diagnosis and get proper treatment because they think others will judge their past sexual history, despite the fact that many Americans have HPV.

And when they do decide to get treatment, the treatment options (like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation) can also harm mental health and the body in the process.

She had some suggestions for how to get through this potentially difficult time. One way to cope is to acknowledge all emotions and allow yourself to feel and release them.

“I recommend keeping a gratitude list,” Whitlock said.

“Waking up each day and finding one thing a person can be happy or thankful for regardless of how bleak the cancer feels. Leave yourself notes of appreciation, affirmations, or humor on the bathroom mirror, fridge or on your windshield.”

She also suggested engaging in hobbies and exercise.

“Talk about what you are experiencing,” Whitlock said.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.