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Post-Traumatic Growth After Cancer


Today I am sharing some information about post-traumatic growth and how patients often experience it following a journey with cancer. This is the concept that after trauma (such as cancer), something positive can arise. Keep reading to learn more!



What is Post-Traumatic Growth?


Many people are familiar with the term Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), but fewer people may have heard the term post-traumatic growth (PTG). Post-traumatic growth is defined as a positive life change following a stressful or traumatic event. This could be a positive life change following any type of trauma experience, including cancer.


When you are going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment, both your brain and your body are experiencing trauma. Your brain is in overdrive processing the experience and in constant survival mode.


So what if it was possible to gain a positive outcome from that experience?


I recently wrote about the concept of resiliency following cancer treatment - which is different from PTG. Resiliency is described as returning to your prior state of well-being following trauma (such as cancer), while PTG goes beyond that to mean a significant improvement in your well-being following the trauma.


Examples of Post-Traumatic Growth


Post-traumatic growth is not limited to one specific area of personal growth. It can be in various areas of your life including:


  • Relationships - You could experience an improvement in your relationships in general or may experience improvement or growth with one significant relationship specifically.

  • Reaching goals - This could mean both professional or personal goals

  • Spiritual development - You could experience a new or improved spiritual relationship in your life

  • Seeking new life experiences (such as travel, exploring new hobbies or a new career)


Ways to Achieve Post-Traumatic Growth




It is possible to achieve post-traumatic growth following an experience with cancer. Some ways to do so include:

  • Be intentional - identify and seek out ways and areas to grow

  • Practice reflection - this could be through practicing meditation, creating, and/or journaling. {Personally, I honor my cancer anniversary each year with reflection through walking a labyrinth}

  • Lean on a support network - both during and after treatment, it helps to have a support system of family and friends to talk to when you need to.

  • Reduce stress and anxiety - Work to reduce your stress and anxiety levels as much as possible. Meditation and journaling practices help with this, as does talking through things with a professional counselor or support group.


A Real-Life Example of Post-Traumatic Growth After Cancer


It may seem unbelievable that positive things can come from such a negative and traumatic experience such as being diagnosed with cancer. Researchers have shown however that more people actually experience positive growth than psychiatric disorders (such as PTSD) following a traumatic experience.


My own experience with cancer is an example, actually. After undergoing treatment and surgery for cancer myself, I experienced PTG in a personal and professional capacity. Previously credentialed as a clinical social worker and personal trainer, I made the decision to also become trained as a cancer navigator and wellness coach. It was important to me to use my professional expertise as well as my personal experience to help others who are dealing with cancer. My experience helps me relate to my clients in a way that I know I would have found tremendously helpful during my cancer journey.


Looking for a Cancer Navigator?


My passion is helping others navigate through their journeys with cancer. Providing a space for people to talk about what they are going through, and coaching in all areas of their healing journey is really important to me. If you are looking for cancer coaching, please reach out to me! I provide the option for a free consultation if you are unsure of your needs, or we can go ahead and get started right away with your first session.


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