The Lonely Side of Cancer

“I just want to hide away until it’s over”

 

Those were the words of a woman we serve who was in the middle of treatment for breast cancer.

 

Although her husband had been a constant support throughout her ordeal, this woman couldn’t help but feel all alone.

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Initially, she says she was overwhelmed with support from her friends. But now, 4 months later, weeks go by without a single text. Although she understands, she longs for normalcy again. She told me she just wanted to hide away until it was all over.

 

Loneliness is very common in cancer.

 

Physiologically, it can negatively impact the body. Individuals who are lonely tend to have higher mortality rates (by 26%) and lower immune function than those who are not. Moreover, they have more inflammation, which can lead to tumor progression and metastasis.

 

Research demonstrates that the opposite is true for those with strong social support – a phenomena referred to as the Roseto Effect.

 

One report says that individuals who are feeling lonely can easily become overwhelmed by the challenges of everyday life, which triggers a stress response in the body. While, on the other hand, those who feel they are in a supportive environment have less tension and stress, which translates into a positive effect on disease.

 

In light of these findings, the National Cancer Institute recommends that patients look for support in different ways. One such way is through an exercise program.

 

At Maple Tree, each patient we serve is assigned their own exercise oncology instructor. Each week, they receive free exercise training that is tailored to their specific strengths and weaknesses, carried out under the direction of that instructor

 

This not only helps the patient physically, but emotionally as well! Our trainers and their patients develop a strong bond. Patients know that no matter what else is happening in their lives, their trainer is there for them and will be there to support them on this journey. Our research shows that this translates into lower feelings of loneness and improved quality of life!

 

Maple Tree cares for you – mind, body, and soul!