Make an Appointment

Handling the Emotional Stress of Cancer

The physical side effects of cancer can be exhausting and pervasive: Hair loss, fatigue, surgical scars and bodily changes are among the most common challenges that patients face.

But the results of a cancer diagnosis can also assault the brain and our mental outlook in a variety of ways. “That includes a higher incidence of depression, fear, anxiety and sadness,” says Carrier Clinic President Donald J. Parker, who also serves as president of behavioral health care transformation services/integrative medicine for the network.

It is that marriage of addressing cancer patients’ emotions and thoughts, in combination with caring for their bodies, that makes for effective treatment of the disease.

The following alternative treatments are beneficial activities for the body and the mind, and Parker urges patients who are undergoing cancer treatment to consider them.


This use of very thin needles along with heat or pressure to stimulate points on the body can help relieve chronic pain and some symptoms associated with cancer treatment.


The scent of concentrated plant oils can heighten feelings of well-being and may relieve stress. Aromatherapy is used at Carrier Clinic, for example, in its horticulture therapy program.

Physical Activity

Any movement—be it walking or another form of moderate exercise—can help fight tiredness, improve muscle strength and stamina, and increase bone density, aiding overall wellness.

Massage Therapy

Massage may ease the pain and anxiety associated with cancer.


Meditation is an age-old practice that is known to improve overall well-being.

Music Therapy

Hospitals use music therapy to promote relaxation among patients in order to distract them from physical and emotional pain associated with disease. Hospital music therapists are trained and skilled in leveraging these evidence-based techniques.

Thai Chi

Tai Chi’s precise body movements done in tandem with meditation and synchronized breathing aid general mental and physical health.


Another ancient practice, yoga is known to promote relaxation and improved health.

Next Steps & Resources:

Learn how Carrier Clinic provides compassionate help and supportive healing for patients and families.

Find a Hackensack Meridian Health doctor near you.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.



Subscribe to get the latest health tips from our expert clinicians delivered weekly to your inbox.

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By using this site,
you agree to our Terms & Conditions. Also, please read our Privacy Policy.
Accept All Cookies