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CAN-Sirs Corner

by Pete Davignon

reprinted with permission from Senior Softball News

Fellow Players Can Help Ease Stress of Cancer Survivors

Summer 2014 Edition

Two recent studies indicate the number one problem of men having survived cancer is high distress. The study shows there are serious stress issues that may not start until months of even a year after the physical healing has finished.

In a study of men with prostate, GI, lung, and heal and neck cancers, the top problems for requested assistance were all classified as high distress. Sleep was the number one complaint for all the cancers. The second was related to fatigue, third was finances and then stress-related issues. This study was done through personal interviews by the City of Hope Cancer Research Center.

Severe anxiety, depression, irritability, short temper, anger, withdrawal, sexual dysfunction, apathy and ignoring and denying feelings of need are the symptoms according to the National Cancer Institute and are defined as Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD).

Men with histories of cancer are considered to be at risk for PTSD. The physical and mental shock of having a life-threatening disease, the treatments for cancer, and living with repeated threats to one's body and life are traumatic experiences for many cancer patients.

The symptoms experienced by cancer survivors are similar to other situations such as military combat, violent personal attacks, or other life threatening events.

Because the cancer experience involves so many upsetting events, it is more difficult to single out one event as the cause of stress than it is for other traumas.

Symptoms that last for a month or more and cause significant problems in the man's personal relationships, employment, or other important areas of daily life are considered high distress.

The challenges concerning dealing with high distress (PTSD) in men who have survived cancer is to recognize the value of sharing their stress issues with their medical professionals and to understand the connection between talking to fellow survivors and positive outcomes.

Survivors sometimes pull away from others. They may ignore or deny feelings of loneliness, lack of interest in things they normally enjoyed. They need to make themselves consciously aware of the internal conflicts that demand macho reactions and bring themselves to interact with their fellow survivors.

The stresses are best treated with therapy and medications. Stress levels can be brought under control with time.

Fellow senior softball players, here is where we can help our fellow players.

If you know a cancer survivor on your team or league that seems to withdraw from fellowship or loses interest in playing softball, ask them if they was to talk. Men will ask for and accept help in a male-friendly environment.

By engaging them in discussions, distress can be decreased. If one of your fellow ballplayers has cancer, heart problems, heat stroke, or other bodily injury such as bad knees, hip or shoulders, we all come to them with wishes for a quick recovery.

If the problem shows itself as irritability, anger, shortness of temper, irrational conversations, we frequently ignore and avoid these situations. Instead, try empathy and compassion for fellow players who show symptoms of high distress and PTSD.

You can get more information on PTSD and Cancer at the City of Hope or the National Institute for Cancer, or just Google "cancer and stress."

You can reach us at can-sirs@att.net and visit the CAN-Sirs website at www.can-sirs.org. Your financial support is welcome. You can donate through PayPal or 2485 Notre Dame Blvd #370-180, Chico, CA 95928.