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Supporting Patients’ Emotional Well-being During Cancer Treatment

At the New York Proton Center, we know that a cancer diagnosis can be life-altering news. For patients, there may be specific anxieties around what various treatments will feel like, and a general fear of the unknown. Patients may also experience financial stressors during treatment, fear of recurrence of the cancer, and pressing practical concerns like finding local lodging or transportation to treatment. All these stressors can impact mental health.


During May, Mental Health Awareness Month, NYPC Social Worker Chrissy Rubin, LCSW and Nurse Practitioner Alisa Ryncarz, AGACNP-BC offered some tips to help patients and their families navigate the treatment process.


NYPC has always emphasized a holistic approach to care, with patients’ emotional well-being an important consideration throughout treatment. That’s why our multidisciplinary patient care team includes social workers who are advocates and can help with the emotional and logistical pressures that can come with cancer treatment. They support NYPC patients emotionally but also offer tangible help with things like connecting them with financial resources, introducing them to peer support groups, facilitating transportation and lodging, and preparing them to re-enter the working world after treatment. Other team members, including nurses, are also keenly attuned to patients’ well-being throughout treatment, checking in regularly to uncover any special needs to address.


Chrissy and Alisa offer three strategies that patients and survivors can utilize on their own to help alleviate stress and improve their mental health during and after treatment.


  1. Stay in the moment. With a treatment plan that may span several weeks, it’s reasonable to get ahead of oneself when thinking about what is next, and to experience anxiety related to the future. While it may be hard, try focusing on what’s happening right in front of you, taking deep breaths and being present in the current moment. Take every day one step at a time.
  2. Ask for help! It is important to ask your network of family and friends for help and be explicit about what you need. If you’re tired from a treatment session and just want to sit with a friend and watch a movie, or just want to talk to someone about what is going on in their life, it’s okay to be specific about these preferences. Patients who are impacted by loss of income and financial hardship during treatment can sign up for NYPC’s Forward Together, a free online platform where they can create a Support Registry to request assistance with a wide range of non-clinical expenses and needs.
  3. Practice self-care. Self-care comes in many different forms, and it’s important to find something that relaxes you and makes you feel at ease. This could mean getting outside, reading a book, or listening to music – anything that brings you a sense of calm. During treatment, it’s essential to treat yourself with grace and understand that you may need more self-care time than usual.


NYPC is here to support patients and families not only with proton therapy treatment, but also with services, emotional care and counsel to help improve patient mental health and well-being. During Mental Health Awareness Month and every month, we will continue to strive to give patients the treatment and tools they need to thrive.

How can we help?

Want to find out if proton therapy might be a good fit for you or your patient? Call us at 833-NYPROTON (833-697-7686) or fill out the appropriate form below.