“Approximately every 9 minutes, someone in the US dies from a blood cancer. This statistic represents approximately 160 people each day or more than 6 people every hour” (Facts and Statistics). “Leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are expected to cause the deaths of an estimated 58,100 people in the US in 2018” (Facts and Statistics). Leukemia is no joke, the casualties are high and they should be publicized more. Patients not only have to deal with the daunting challenge of overcoming such a disease, but also overcome the psychological and physical effects afterwords. Patients should be given the option, right out of treatment, to undergo a session of therapy. The psychological effects, if left untreated, could linger the rest of their life. Some of these effects include grief, depression, body image, spirituality, survivor guilt (MD Anderson Cancer Center). Hospitals should be required to provide Leukemia patients with a therapist to treat social and emotional issues that are prevalent during treatment of the disease.
Leukemia is a type of cancer that is progressive where bone marrow production is increased, causing the numbers of immature or abnormal leukocytes to increase (NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms). Leukemia not only affects your physical stature and health, it affects your mental health. The trauma of going through leukemia treatments and the disease itself takes a big toll on your mental health. Fear of relapse is common in leukemia survivors and their families. Almost all cancer survivors face psychological and emotional issues that can show up many years after treatment. Some of the psychological issues include fear of recurrence, grief, depression, body image, spirituality, survivor guilt, and trouble with relationships (Social & Emotional Impacts of Cancer). It is imperative that leukemia survivors should have the right to, provided by the government, a therapist even if they think it is not necessary. Psychological issues need to be addressed during and after treatment. These can often be overcome with support and encouragement (The American Cancer Society Medical and Editorial Content Team). A therapist should not be something to be ashamed of, they should be viewed a tool to help fighters cope with the physical and emotional stress during their treatment.
Side Effects of Leukemia
Leukemia has a wide variety of side effects, including psychological effects and physical effects. Many times, the psychological effects are over looked or ignored, while the physical effects are focused on the most. One big reason as to why the psychological effects are ignored; is survivors may be ashamed or embarrassed. Psychological issues should not be ignored, they are serious and plentiful. According to MD Anderson Cancer Center, almost all cancer survivors will face psychological and emotional issues that can show up many years after treatment. Some examples of social and emotional issues include grief, depression, body image issues, trouble with spirituality, survivor guilt, problems with relationships, and problems in the workplace (Social & Emotional Impacts of Cancer). All the issues listed are serious by themselves, but together they become an overwhelming obstacle. If left untreated, these issues will seemingly become impossible to overcome and they will make your life much harder. The Cancer Institute NSW writes, people with cancer can experience a range of feelings including anger, sadness, fear, and feeling out of control (The Effects of Cancer on Social and Emotional Wellbeing). This is important because it shows that many survivors have the same feelings and psychological effects. Since most survivors share similar feelings and social and emotional issues, therapists should automatically be provided to the survivors to get a head start on overcoming the difficulties that lie ahead.
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The psychologic and physical effects on surviving leukemia patients lead to problems later on in their life. These effects, if left untreated, will only get worse with time. They will only cause more problems and make your life harder than it needs to be. Mary Carmichael states that survivors of leukemia, now looking for jobs, who have to deal with the lasting side effects resulting from large doses of radiation given during treatment make getting and maintain a job harder. According to Mary, the lasting effects include stunted physical and emotional growth, a short attention span, and tiring easily (Carmichael). Basically, Mary is warning that without any treatment (therapy) survivors may have trouble with emotional growth, ultimately leading to trouble finding a job. Not being able to find a job will greatly affect your present and future life. Not having a job means there is no way to support yourself or your family. Therapy can help survivors overcome what they went through, their current struggles, and help them grow emotionally and socially.
Importance of Therapy
Therapy is extremely important with helping survivors overcome their psychological issues. Sometimes therapy is seen as being weak or its embarrassing, this is certainly not the case. Therapy is meant to help survivors overcome issues they have that they acquired through something that no one should ever have to go through. There are many ways and types of therapy, different kinds of therapy work for different people. According to Pam Mellskog, “Many people in that age group remember the song. They mouth the words. And because music is tied into emotion, cognition, and memory in the brain, it takes them back to a more normal time, that’s healing” (Mellskog). Bringing someone that went through possibly the worst time of their life back to the happiness and normalcy of their previous life can do wonders. It will for one, show them what they have to look forward to and two show them that life can be amazing and beautiful. Music therapy is not the only therapy that works. There are thousands of different kinds or therapy that work for different people. Survivors of leukemia need to find what works for them, they need to have an outlet provided for them where they can talk about what they have went through, what they want to overcome, and what they want for themselves in the future. Pam states that bring people back to their happy place can help heal them (Mellskog). If joy and happiness can be brought into someone’s life that will make it much easier for them to overcome the social and emotional issues they have been facing. It will not magically make it completely better, but it will put them on the right track and help them navigate the way to a good, happy life. Therapy should be provided to surviving leukemia patients because it helps them have someone to talk to about what they have been through, what they are having trouble overcoming now whether it be physical or psychological issues, and what they want for their future.
Accessibility for Therapy
Understandably, many survivors have the thought process of finding therapy, and the right therapy, is too complicated and expensive. Therapy can be scary and hard to find the right situation, but it is needed and worth it. Leukemia survivors should be provided with a therapist to make it easier for these survivors. The survivors should not have to worry about finding someone on their own, it should be the next step in overcoming their journey in beating leukemia. Yes, it can be hard to find the right therapist and it may be expensive. However, if hospitals are required to provide therapy to survivors it will take away the stressful process of find a suitable therapist. According to Informed Choices About Depression, “the cost for private counseling or therapy can range from $50 to $240 for a one-hour session” (How Much Does Therapy or Counseling Cost?). $50 is not a crazy amount of money, it is affordable and worth it considering the therapy will help you move on and continue with your life. Now, many times survivors will not even have to pay for their therapy, it will be covered by the hospital or their health care. Informed Choices About Depression states, “Some therapy or counseling is provided at no cost through medical clinics, or hospitals”. When therapy is provided and paid for, it takes all of the stress and worry away from the leukemia survivor and their family and allows them to focus on healing. There is no excuse not to go to therapy when it is provided to you and for no extra cost. Obviously, as of right now, not every hospital will provide therapist for their patients and not every insurance plan will cover the cost of the therapy. However, more and more hospitals and health care companies are covering these costs and the numbers will only increase. Hospitals should be required to provide therapy to surviving cancer patients, it will take away the stress of worrying about costs and if the therapist is accomplished or efficient.
Hospitals should be required to provide a therapist to surviving leukemia patients. Surviving patients have already gone through so much physical and emotional pain, patients need someone to talk to and work things through. Surviving leukemia patients need a therapist to talk about what they went through, help them with the effects they are feeling, and creating a plan to help them move on from such a life changing experience. It seems crazy to not want to help surviving leukemia patients with the psychological effects they have been burdened with. Simply, hospital should provide patients with a therapist to help them resolve the psychological pain they are enduring.
- Carmichael, Mary. Survived Cancer, Want Job, web.b.ebscohost.com/pov/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=c872cd11-e671-4e2f-94e5-bd079c2d96f9%40pdc-v-sessmgr03&bdata=JnNpdGU9cG92LWxpdmU%3d#AN=29412655&db=pwh. Accessed 23 Oct. 2018.
- “Facts and Statistics.” Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 3 Mar. 2015, www.lls.org/http%3A/llsorg.prod.acquia-sites.com/facts-and-statistics/facts-and-statistics-overview/facts-and-statistics.
- “How Much Does Therapy or Counseling Cost?” Depression RSS2, depression.informedchoices.ca/types-of-treatment/counseling-or-therapy/how-much-does-therapy-or-counseling-cost/.
- Mellskog, Pam. “Music Therapy Is Used in Many Ways to Help Patients Heal.” Alternative Therapies, edited by Sylvia Engdahl, Greenhaven Press, 2012. Current Controversies. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010562261/OVIC?u=lom_accessmich&sid=OVIC&xid=ae2b4dd1. Accessed 23 Oct. 2018. Originally published as “The Sounds of Healing,” Vibrant Life, vol. 25, Nov.-Dec. 2009, pp. 14-17.
- “NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms.” National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/leukemia.
- “Social & Emotional Impacts of Cancer.” MD Anderson Cancer Center, www.mdanderson.org/patients-family/life-after-cancer/social-emotional-impacts.html.
- “Social and Emotional Issues During and After Treatment of Childhood Leukemia.” American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemia-in-children/after-treatment/emotional-issues.html.
- “The Effects of Cancer on Social and Emotional Wellbeing.” Cancer Institute NSW, www.cancer.nsw.gov.au/learn-about-cancer/symptoms-of-cancer.
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