As if the emotional distress from living with cancer isn’t hard enough on patients and their loved ones, patients also have to find relief from the physical pain. Sadly, a journey with cancer – even as a survivor – typically includes various types of pain from treatments, diagnostic testing and/or from the cancer itself. The best thing you can do to improve your quality life during this extremely important battle is to know how to manage cancer pain.
Be proactive as you manage cancer pain
The key to a successful cancer care and pain management plan is early intervention. If you’ve ever had to take pain medication after surgery, you know what happens if you miss a dose. It’s nearly impossible to stay ahead of the pain after you fall behind it. Cancer pain management plans work similarly because the faster you can address your pain, the better your chances are of managing it before it worsens.
Try these steps:
- Create a personal plan to control your specific type of cancer and subsequent cancer pain.
- Define strategies and goals, pain medicines, alternative medicines, activities, diets, etc that you want to try as you manage side effects.
- Ask for guidance from your health care providers, care team, supportive family members and caregivers.
- Address and share your pain honestly.
Remember: your main job during and after cancer treatment is to give your body the opportunity to heal. Your long-term objective is survival, and that requires you and your team to treat cancer pain in ways that work for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions
The goal of any pain management plan is to relieve or reduce pain, both physical and psychological. Your state-of-mind and mental wellness are critical when it comes to how to manage cancer pain. Understanding your diagnosis and pending procedures is key.
Try these steps:
- Find activities to help you lower your anxiety about diagnostic testing and treatments.
- Have open communication with your health care providers, specialists, care team and caregivers.
- Ask as many questions as you need to ask to feel comfortable.
- Don’t feel embarrassed if you have to keep asking the same question multiple times, Everyone processes information differently, so there is no right or wrong way to have tough conversations.
- Seek out support groups so you can engage with others who truly understand everything you’re going through.
Understanding cancer-related pain
Sometimes cancer pain isn’t just about hurting; instead, it’s about overall discomfort. The American Cancer Society notes that you “should never accept pain as a normal part of having cancer. All pain can be treated, and most pain can be controlled or relieved. When pain is controlled, people can sleep and eat better, enjoy being with family and friends, and continue with their work and hobbies.”
The most common cancer is pain associated with procedures and treatments. Cancer pain can be caused by the cancer itself like circumstances where tumors press on nearby areas. It is also commonly triggered by things such as surgery, intravenous chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and supportive care therapies.