Coping with Stress During CAR T-cell Therapy

It's normal to be worried, anxious or sad while undergoing and recovering from CAR T-cell therapy.

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CAR T-cell therapy can be an emotionally challenging experience for both you and your family. You may worry about:

  • how you will feel while going through treatment
  • potential short- and long-term side effects
  • how long it will take to recover
  • whether you will be able to go back to work or school
  • whether CAR T-cell therapy will prolong or improve your quality of life
  • how you and your family will be able to manage the household and financial obligations

It’s normal to feel worried, sad or anxious. If you are constantly worrying or are feeling down more days than not, it may be a sign that you should seek additional support.

Finding Support

It’s important not to ignore or downplay your feelings. Finding an outlet to express and process your feelings can decrease stress, facilitate problem-solving and help you move forward in a healthy manner.

Consider talking with a supportive friend. Many people find that writing down their thoughts in a journal or blog helps to relieve stress.

Talking with a social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist or pastoral counselor at the hospital often helps. If none is available, consult BMT InfoNet’s Directory of Mental Health Providers to a therapist near you.

It can also help to talk with others who have been through CAR T-cell therapy. They can share information about what to expect and strategies they found useful while undergoing treatment. BMT InfoNet’s Caring Connection Program can connect you with someone who has been through CAR T-cell therapy.

Meditation and Relaxation

Many people find that self-help measures like meditation, relaxation programs and/or exercise relieves anxiety. Explore whether your hospital or a local cancer wellness center offers classes to teach these techniques.

You can also try some apps to help relieve stress. Calm.com and Headspace.com are two worth exploring. The Breathe2relax app can also be helpful.

If you’re still feeling stressed, ask your doctor whether medication to reduce anxiety would be appropriate. Short-term use of these drugs does not lead to long-term dependence for most people.

Next: The Role of the Caregiver

Updated August, 2022

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