In this week’s episode of The UpBeat Podcast powered by CoachArt, our co-hosts Greg and Roxanne sit down with Deena, a psychotherapist whose daughter Nomi was diagnosed with leukemia at age 10 in 2014.
Deena shares the story of how Nomi’s life was saved by her older sister Maya and how Deena’s experiences led her to move the main focus of her psychotherapy practice to treat families impacted by cancer and other illnesses. Deena also has tips and advice on how to get the most emotional and personal growth from a battle with cancer — something called “post-traumatic growth.” We’ve all heard of post-traumatic stress, which is the negative impact of trauma, but there can also be positives taken from any situation, and those are things that Deena focuses on.
Deena (right) pictured with daughter, Maya (left)
Some of Deena’s advice for maximizing post-traumatic growth are:
— Find support. Within the family, focus on the shared experience that you’re all going through together. Be there for one another. But also find support outside the family unit as well. Build a strong community.
— Seek therapy. As a professional, Deena stresses the strong benefits of therapy at any time, but during and after a trying experience like cancer, therapy is even more important.
— Focus on family. Really try to support everyone’s experiences and emotions. Create space for these feelings and understand that there will be negative emotions — feeling angry, feeling needy — and we need to accept these emotions. Spend time together, go out as a family.
— Prioritize mental health. During and after the cancer treatment, much of our focus is placed on the cancer battle. But make sure to address the mental health aspects even while so much attention is being placed on the physical issues.
— Understand that recovery is an on-going process. You don’t just arrive there suddenly. It takes work, attention, and focus.
September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month, so The UpBeat is spending this month interviewing guests who’ve experienced its impact. Show your support by commenting below and sharing your personal experiences.
The UpBeat podcast is powered by CoachArt, a nonprofit organization that provides FREE art and athletic activities to families impacted by any childhood chronic illness – such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, cancer, cerebral palsy and more.
If you have a child that may qualify for CoachArt programs, visit: CoachArt.org.