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The World’s Leading Authority for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Patients

Dealing with the Psychosocial Aspects of Cancer

In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge. All articles and interviews are informational only, should never be considered medical advice, and should never be acted on without review with your health care team.

Dr. Scott Irwin is a psychiatrist who is the Director of Psychiatry and Psychosocial Services at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center in San Diego, CA. He understands what it is like to have to deal with the diagnosis of cancer, or in our case, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

Take Away Points:

  • No-one likes a surprise and cancer is always a surprise.
  • Biggest concerns for patients (in order):
    • Loss of autonomy
    • Less ability to enjoy activities
    • Loss of dignity
    • Loss of bodily functions
    • Being a burden on others
    • Poor pain control

As Dr. Irwin explains in this lecture from the CRC (CLL Research Consortium) Patient Meeting in April 2015, what we all want when handed the knockout punch to the head, the choke to the heart, the wrench to the gut that is a cancer diagnosis has a lot to do with preserving our dignity as we more forward in our “new reality”. And our dignity has more to do with our primal psychological concerns than our bodily worries.

Please listen to Dr. Irwin as he shares what his years of research and personal work with cancer patients reveals about what we want and need when dealing with CLL, and how his staff at UCSD responds.

He concludes his lecture, quoting one who well earned the right to discuss suffering, Helen Keller.

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

Good stuff.

Brian Koffman, MD   1/25/16