My web site is devoted to medical and treatment information about this rare cancer. My blog is devoted to sharing what has been the more difficult part of the journey for me, the emotional and spiritual road I've traveled as a rare cancer survivor.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Emotions, Stress and Disease

I will soon be attending a professional seminar. As a nurse, I am often invited to various seminars, but none intrigue me enough to pay the cash. But recently I was invited to a seminar that truly intrigues me; Emotions, Stress and Disease.

As a member of the cancer community, I have become truly intrigued by the emotional turmoil cancer creates in us. Unlike other illnesses where you are treated, recover and move on, cancer is different. It does not just cause physical turmoil, but emotional turmoil as well...and I've come to learn that often the physical recovery is much easier than the emotional recovery, the living with fear and uncertainty after physical healing.

I also believe that biology plays a big part in our emotional well-being. Brain chemistry changes bring on many mental illnesses. I worked for a bit on a psych unit and was blown away by the changes in patients who were put on the right meds. For some, it wasn't counseling that cured them; it was the effect of medication on their brain chemistry. I'd taken care of schizophrenics who were talking to imaginary people and who were totally "out of it" who a week later on the right medications seemed totally normal. The same with many bipolar patients. Childhood and life stresses and circumstances play a part for many with mental illness, but I came to learn biology and chemistry are also involved.

Those of us with cancer get a double whammy...we are subject to terrifying life circumstances, but I'm sure our brain chemistry is also affected by the many physical stressors we face; surgery, chemo, dietary changes, activity changes etc. We have overwhelming physical and psychological stressors all at once. Most of us women who have appendiceal cancer also lose our ovaries and are thrust into surgical menopause, our hormonal balance changes drastically overnight.

The seminar I will be attending addresses both the physical and emotional components of stress and its effects on our brain chemistry and biology, also how our body chemistry and biology play into our emotions. It will deal with the neurology of emotions, neurotransmitters and stress hormones including adrenalin, cortisol and ACTH.

I think it will be really interesting...will keep you posted with what I learn at the June 10th seminar!

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