Being diagnosed with cancer can be life-changing for you and your loved ones. From diagnosis through to treatment and even after, you’re likely to experience a range of emotions. One in three people with cancer will experience a mental health problem before, during, or after treatment. It’s completely normal to at times feel afraid, anxious, scared, angry, or sad. Part of coping with and treating your cancer is looking after your mental health.
Clatterbridge Private Clinic’s specialist psychological support for cancer patients
At Clatterbridge Private Clinic, we offer our patients access to an experienced clinical psychologist to help them deal with the often-significant emotional effects of dealing with the disease. Dr. Helen Beesley is a chartered clinical psychologist who has years of experience in providing psychological therapy for patients dealing with cancer and can provide expert support to all the patients at our clinic. Dr. Beesley is an expert in the effects of serious health conditions on the emotional wellbeing of patients and is here to help patients after diagnosis, during treatment, and afterward.
Since qualifying as a Clinical Psychologist at the University of Liverpool 2004, Dr. Beesley has carried out and published research in clinical health psychology within cancer care. For several years, she was a key member of a pioneering team in cancer services at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. She led the development of a psychology service in the Breast Unit, which further expanded to provide a psychology service for patients affected by other types of cancer. This work involved supporting patients affected by cancer and also supporting their family members using psychological therapy.
This innovative service, with its roots in both the hospital and the University of Liverpool, offered support to cancer patients across the city, as well as conducting vital research, including a study looking at when patients want to be offered psychological support.
Dr. Beesley already offers support to patients at the Clatterbridge Private Clinic on the Wirral, helping them through what can be one of the most difficult times of their life, and will also work out of the Clatterbridge Private Clinic in the new Liverpool hospital in the city centre, once it has opened later this year. Cancer patients from across Merseyside and around the world, for those who travel to receive our expert cancer care, will be able to benefit from her considerable skills and have access to the emotional support they need throughout their time with the clinic.
Helping people to handle to emotional effects of cancer
Speaking to The Guide, Dr. Beesley said: “It is important to reassure patients, and those close to them, that to experience a range of strong feelings can be natural at any stage; whether that be around diagnosis, dealing with treatment or on hearing difficult news.”
“Many people find that with the help of family and friends and the support of the clinicians looking after them that they can find a way through. Other people might not have a lot of support. Even when they do, some people find that even with people around them who care, the emotional effects are difficult to deal with and specialist psychological support canbe helpful”.
“For some patients, the help of a clinical psychologist will offer significant benefits.” She added: “when people talk about cancer, often the language of warfare is used. People talk about ‘fighting’ the disease or winning ‘the battle’ This doesn’t happen so much when people speak about other serious health conditions. There’s less talk about ‘fighting’ heart disease for example.
“This language can make sense for many patients and might give them a helpful way to approach all they are dealing with. For others, it may feel a burden or responsibility to appear ‘strong’ or stoical in front of family and friends when how they actually feel inside may be very different”.
“The main thing to remember is that everyone is different, with their own unique set of circumstances and their own values and priorities”. This is the starting point for any psychological therapy with Dr. Beesley and she helps each individual to work on what’s important for them. “Therapy is a collaborative process and we work together.”
Tailored support, not a one-size-fits-all approach
Every person’s mental health is unique to them. When you have cancer there is no right or wrong way to feel. A cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing event for anyone, but people deal with things in different ways and everyone’s emotional experience is unique to them. Psychological therapy with Dr Beesley is tailored to the specific needs, priorities and values of the person she is working with.
One of the aims of the research carried out by Dr. Beesley and the team at the Royal was to identify the times when people are more likely to want and need psychological support. She said that sometimes patients might prefer to focus on the medical appointments and treatment and put the emotional issues to one side. At Clatterbridge Private Clinic you can access therapy sessions whenever you feel you want or need them. This can be at any stage throughout your diagnosis, treatment, or even when in remission.
“The support is not just for people during their treatment, or dealing with bad news” added Dr. Beesley “there is also a need for support for those who are recovering or are in remission and who are wanting to move on with life; they may need help in doing that.”
There is growing recognition that emotional issues can be difficult beyond the end of treatment. It is often a time when patients have less contact with the clinicians involved in their care and sometimes support from family and friends can reduce as they see that treatment has finished. There can be an expectation that things will return to ‘normal’ after treatment ends. While for some people this will happen, for many others, it can be a case of adjusting to a new version of normal, which can be a challenge emotionally. Low mood and anxiety can increase, for some, after the end of treatment. Treatment often takes up a lot of time and focus, so it is no surprise that once treatment ends it can sometimes be the first time the person is able to fully reflect on what they have been through with diagnosis and treatment. Dr Beesley says, “It is important to realise this can be an entirely understandable and normal reaction to adjusting and moving on. Don’t feel you need to cope on your own. It can be helpful to let someone you trust know how you are feeling. It may be that if they realise, they can support you in the way that you need”.
This is why at Clatterbridge Private we provide support throughout the whole process, even after your treatment has finished. We understand that every person is different and that is why we provide tailored support, centred around each individual’s unique needs. Our psychological therapy sessions are available to all patients, whenever they need it, and our Patient Liaison Team is always is on hand to support you every step of the way.
Dr. Beesley added: “I have worked with many people affected by cancer and have seen the way that therapy can be helpful. It is a real privilege to support people at such a challenging time in their lives.”
We take the time to get to know our patients and build relationships with them so we can offer the best possible care for each person. Our clinic has been specially designed, offering modern and peaceful surroundings, to ensure patients feel comfortable and at ease as soon as they enter the centre. Our multi-disciplinary team delivers expert cancer care and does everything they can to make your whole experience as easy and stress-free as possible.
All people affected by cancer should have access to specialist psychological support if they need it, and Dr. Beesley is pleased to be able to provide this service to the Clatterbridge Private Clinic, and we are glad we can provide this support to all our patients.
If you are struggling with your mental health after a cancer diagnosis or would like to find out more about Clatterbridge Private Clinic and our specialist psychological support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on 0152 556 5391 or email us at ccf-tr.info.clinic.@hns.net.