To people living with cancer, life is precious. When pain becomes part of each day, of one’s daily life, these days are diminished and quality of life is eroded.
The list of damage that pain does to quality of life includes:
• sleep is disturbed
• ability to work is impaired
• exhaustion can become a constant companion
• sadness, depression and worry are commonly felt emotions
• appetite diminishes
• simple pleasures such as enjoying one’s family are impaired or given up
• trips and vacations are uncomfortable or impossible
• reluctance to move or exercise is experienced
• feelings of isolation from the world increase
• family and friends who are caregivers become exhausted.
Every cancer patient who has experienced unrelieved pain can provide his or her own list of the damage pain can do to one’s life.
Even if you believe that you, personally, can tolerate the pain you feel from cancer or cancer treatments, consider this: by living in pain, you are depriving those who love and care for you the full pleasure of your company. To continue to suffer, especially in light of the fact that very good quality of pain relief is available for almost all cancer pain, is not only hurting yourself, but also those who care for you.
It’s important to understand, too, that cancer pain can undermine your ability to fight your cancer. If pain has you in its grip, your appetite diminishes. This means you may not be receiving sufficient nutrition to retain energy which, in turn, leads to exhaustion and feelings of sadness and depression. As this cycle continues, a person is worn down gradually, may become more vulnerable to infection, and the ability to withstand necessary cancer treatments may diminish.