GRACE :: Coping with Cancer / Social Work


Monthly Archives: April 2009

Denial as a Coping Mechanism


Hello again; its’ definitely been a while since we’ve talked. A few days ago, Dr. West, our hero, asked me to comment on a GRACE reader’s question about a relative who was in complete denial. The state of her unfortunate lung cancer situation was so obvious to all that the friend wondered what the patient could possibly be thinking when she refused to consider her physician’s suggestion that she get her ‘affairs in order’.

Denial is one of our psychological defense mechanisms and, believe it or not, it works very well for those who need such a defense. Denial is actually very functional, and I am frankly surprised that more cancer patients don’t employ it. Freud once said, and I am paraphrasing, that no human being could face the fact of their imminent death for very long; truly coming to grips with the fact that one is going to die, and probably sooner rather than later is a terrifying thought. This is when denial really kicks in as the way to avoid looking at this reality. Another very wise man once said: Acceptance is hope co-existing with reality. Denial is hope masquerading as reality.

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Leah de Roulet, Social Worker, Discussing Challenges with Coping with Progressing Cancer


This is the second part of an interview I did with Leah de Roulet, Oncology Social Worker, in which she discusses some of the leading practical as well as emotional challenges facing patients and caregivers as a person progresses with cancer. Whether we’re talking about helping a patient recognize that they can no longer live independently or coming to terms with an anticipated death, I learned that these problems are difficult for everyone and that there are few situations for which there are clear answers.

Although there is a video version that will stream to people who have subscribed to the feed for the social work vertical, this interview doesn’t have any associated figures other than a title slide, so I’m only providing the podcast link here to the audio version (subscribe to the audio version feed here). Click to listen now.

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