New Book by Weill Cornell Psychiatrist Offers Insight and Hope for "Surviving Cancer Emotionally"

Despite Treatment Advances, Emotional Demands Are Too Often Neglected

Nov 8, 2001


Cancer is one of the most feared diseases, and patients and their families must undergo a journey that tests them both physically and emotionally. Coping with cancer and its treatment requires sound, clear information and advice. That is what cancer patients and their families will find in Surviving Cancer Emotionally: Learning How to Heal, by Roger B. Granet, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, published by John Wiley & Sons.

A psychiatrist with several decades of experience in helping cancer patients, Dr. Granet writes clearly and simply about the emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment. With examples drawn from real life, he tells how to cope with the emotional demands of the disease from the time it first makes itself known. Here is advice on:

  • Dealing with the diagnosis
  • Finding the coping style that's right for you
  • Handling the many demands of treatment
  • Knowing when to ask for help
  • and how to find it
  • Surviving and coming to terms with a different you
  • Handling the fear of recurrence

While Dr. Granet gives no credence to the idea that certain personality traits may contribute to cancer, he does insist that a patient's emotional well-being improves his or her quality of life. Since the needs and preferences of cancer patients differ, he suggests a range of possible strategies such as counseling, participation in support groups, and reliance on caretaking by family and friends.

Dr. Granet asserts that patients benefit from acknowledging their difficult emotions rather than blurring them with alcohol or drugs. Indeed, in his compassionate manner, he does not turn away from such feelings and fears. At the same time, he recommends treatment with medication when appropriate.

Observing that cancer survivors often gain deeper spiritual values and emotional maturity, Dr. Granet sees the possibility of strength and grace where people often expect humiliation and dysfunction. "Cancer has the power not simply to threaten life but to transform it," he writes. "This is the paradox of the disease: Even as it puts life at risk, it offers the opportunity to turn that life toward greater meaning. Cancer's journey permits us to focus on what is good and valid, and to reshape what is not. That is the deepest meaning of healing."