Steel Magnolias and Cancer: How Women Survive the Crisis

January 11, 2007 at 4:48 pm  •  Posted in Cancer by  •  0 Comments

By Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH

Suggested Coping Strategies



Millions of American women are the primary caregivers for their families. In addition to raising their family, they may also be caring for their aging parents. Unfortunately, when many of these women develop a serious illness such as cancer they may slight their own treatment because of their caregiving responsibilities. Here are some suggestions to help women focus on taking good care of themselves and surviving a cancer crisis.

Suggested Coping Strategies:

Take responsibility for your emotional health as well as your physical health.  Care about yourself as much as you care about others.  For a while at least, and whenever necessary, put yourself at the very center of your “Circle of Caring.”

  1. Be precious to yourself.  Do things that make you feel happy and good and give yourself time to health both physically and emotionally.
  2. Fear is a basic emotion.  It is real and it is normal.  It’s also manageable.
  3. Always chose hope – never its darker side of hopelessness.  Remember that a hopeless person is a helpless person.
  4. Get as much information about your disease and treatment as you can, and insist on excellent care.  Ask questions if you don’t understand something.  Get second opinions, and tell your physician or other health care professionals if you don’t like the way something has been managed.  You would do this for other family members – why not do it for yourself!
  5. Lower your own performance standards when warranted.  Remember that “good is usually good enough.”  We don’t have to be perfect – perfect mothers, partners, employees or friends.
  6. Find a good support system.  As hard as others might try, few can actually understand the personal trauma of a cancer diagnosis or the physical and emotional readjustment necessary.  That’s why self help and support programs are so valuable.
  7. Remember that every crisis contains the seeds of opportunity.  These hidden opportunities can help you grow beyond the crisis.

There are thousands of highly trained social workers with specialized training in cancer available to help women dealing with the disease.  To locate a social worker in your area, please click here.


Leave a Reply