London, United Kingdom
Parents of sick children may come across a judgment that the cancer is given to the family as punishment. This causes pain, a sense of loneliness and rejection at the very moment when the family needs support the most.
MYTH 1. Cancer is a punishment
- Can a negative relationship in the family in the present or in the past somehow affect the onset of the cancer?
- No, they can not. The etiology of cancer is very complex, it is not a psychosomatic disease. The causes of cancer are much more powerful. For example, mutations in some genes dramatically increase the risk of breast cancer. We all know the story of Angelina Jolie. That is, a person can live happily, be successful, be loved, but the genetic predisposition will "work" anyway. It is also known that the probability of cancer increases due to radiation.
- Why is there an opinion about the psychological causes of cancer?
- Everyone is afraid of cancer. Most believe that any cancer is an imminent death. We, ordinary people, do not know where it comes from and how to treat it, and this makes it really scary. People seek explanations, come up with them as a defenсe against their own fear. They seem to say to themselves: "This kid’s parents were quarreling, the child became ill." And they think at the same time: "We live in peace, we will not get sick". This is the so-called magic thinking, to which people resort when it is terrible and incomprehensible.
- How do parents of children with cancer have to react to such statements and how to cope with an emerging sense of guilt?
- The best way is to understand that such statements are dictated by fear and a sense of helplessness.
At the first stage, people are shocked, refuse to believe, then there comes a sense of guilt, depression, but along with anger. And this anger against? anything, against? himself, for fate – it gives energy that allows you to act: to seek help, to use all possible resources. Everything is connected in man. If you begin to actively treat a child, regardless of any of your feelings and conditions, despite the feeling of despair and hopelessness, the forces will come and the guilt will recede.
Anna Varga, psychologist