Paint the Valley Pink: The psychology of being a cancer patient

SUNBURY – When people think of Breast Cancer or any serious illness, most think of the physical side and how a person would go about defeating it medically. But the emotional effects could be especially difficult.

Dr. Anthony Ragusea, a psychologist at Evangelical Community Hospital, was on WKOK Sunrise recently, and he said that the emotional reactions people have can vary. Some people expect it to happen and are prepared, “But for other people it may be a complete shock and surprise and they may feel even angry. They may feel like they tried to do all the right things in life, to be healthy, exercise, eat right, and yet they get a cancer diagnosis at some point and they feel like it’s unfair.”

Dr. Ragusea says the most successful predictor for good outcomes psychologically is a more active coping style, “Making sure that you get a lot of information about your treatment, about what to expect, about what cancer is; being active, in terms of taking care of yourself, exercising, eating well.”

Dr Ragusea says you can mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for a potentially bad diagnosis in a few ways, “Be prepared for the likelihood that you’re going to have a hard time understanding, or hearing, or remembering what is said to you in that discussion. When we get a serious diagnosis it tends to be fairly overwhelming for us emotionally, and when we’re overwhelmed emotionally we have a harder time paying attention.”

Dr Ragusea says to bring a friend or family member with you to tell you what was said later on, or record the conversation on paper.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and WKOK is ‘Painting The Valley Pink. We will keep having guests throughout the month to discuss issues surrounding Breast Cancer. To hear more from Dr. Ragusea’s conversation or any others you can find them at

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