Informative Essay on Physical and Mental Effects of a Cancer Diagnosis on Cancer Patients

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University of Richmond
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Studies show that there are both physical and mental effects of a cancer diagnosis on cancer patients. The mental health of a person is as important as their physical health, and they both affect the quality of life. While physical fitness is easily detectable and treatable, mental health takes longer to discover and treat. Cancer diagnosis and the treatment that follows can have severe consequences on the mental health of patients (Miller et al. 273). Most of these mental conditions are a result of the person trying to adjust and cope with the realization that they have cancer. I am studying the cancer problem because it is considered an even more deadly disease than HIV, a certain degree of stigma is attached to it which makes managing the mental health of patients very crucial to the treatment and healing process. The study will help provide solutions to the problems encountered by college students suffering from cancer and thus increase their academic success level.

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Description of the Particulars

The study focuses on college students because they are among the most affected groups of people when it comes to cancer disease. When a college student is diagnosed with cancer, they are likely to suffer both physical strains and may not be able to take part in activities they once deemed normal also, their mental wellness becomes compromised as well. Anxiety, depression, and a lack of motivation become the new norm which reflects badly on their studies (Miller et al. 276). As chemotherapy affects brain activity, these patients are not able to fully concentrate in class or handle complex assignments some even have a problem remembering things. The result is that they are not able to do as well in their studies as they did before the diagnosis.

The study will mainly focus on analyzing the experiences of the students and how they can be addressed. The focus will be based on the mental, physical and emotional challenges encountered by the affected students. To take a deeper look at the issue, the researcher will involve a literature review interview which will be conducted with several college cancer patients and cancer survivors. The goal is to get firsthand information on what it means to have cancer as a student, more mentally than physically.

The targeted organization will be colleges in the United States. A survey will be conducted through the formal interview session with the students diagnosed with cancer and the interview questions will cover the following areas: Do you think you get enough support to cope up with the condition? How has being diagnosed with cancer influenced your study and social life? What co-curricular activities do they engage in? Do you hang out with the same people you hang out with before the diagnosis? What more do you think can be done to make your life easy in college?

Significance of the Study

The study aims at providing solutions and coping tactics to cancer patients in colleges. As much as cancer affects both the patient and their family or caregivers, the patient tends to feel more of the effect. College students develop some about their ability to make it to the end of their college life and if so if they will register good performance. Additionally, cancer results in cognitive impairment and interpersonal problems which may cause a patient to lack concentration not be able to commit to memory, and process information slowly. The implication is that the student may not be able to handle normal classwork which would then affect their performance. They may also separate themselves out of fear of being discriminated against or ridiculed, and this may affect their social development or interpersonal skills that are important in a school setting. Also, cancer patients have difficulty in daily personal activities, independence, and self-sufficiency. Ignoring this study means that the learners will continue suffering in their agony and stigma after being diagnosed with cancer. This has both economic and social burdens on society considering that the level of qualified workforce in the community will be significantly reduced (Archer et al. 7). As chemotherapy is a painful procedure, patients may get anxious about the treatment and even recurrence of the disease in addition to having anxiety flashbacks that result in insomnia and having nightmares.


There are various studies conducted to explore the provision of holistic and palliative care to cancer patients. The study in the case is based on the out-of-hospital setting and thus aims at advancing the knowledge on how the cancer patients can be equipped to self-care themselves. Psychotherapy and use of life coping skills are recommended to deal with cognitive impairment, difficulty in doing normal self-care activities like using the bathroom and psychological problems caused by cancer. Also, it will help to have schools do counseling for both the students with cancer and those without. The counseling should focus on how to treat the ill students so they can keep feeling and acting normal. The patients should know that they are not discriminated against or stigmatized (Kale et al. 285). There should be cancer sensitization where students are made to understand what it means to have cancer, and that anyone can get it so they need to be empathetic to their affected colleagues. What this would accomplish is a sense of belonging to the cancer patients, more socialization, less depression, more hope, and motivation, better coping with the disease and consequently better performance.


Archer, Stephanie, Sarah Buxton, and David Sheffield. "The effect of creative psychological interventions on psychological outcomes for adult cancer patients: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials." PsychoOncology 24.1 (2015): 1-10.

Kale, Hrishikesh P., and Norman V. Carroll. "Self-reported financial burden of cancer care and its effect on physical and mental health-related quality of life among US cancer survivors." Cancer 122.8 (2016): 283-289.

Miller, Kimberly D., et al. "Cancer treatment and survivorship statistics, 2016." CA: a cancer journal for clinicians 66.4 (2016): 271-289.

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