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Cancer: Touch

CancerSurvivorMD®

Educational Blog from One Cancer Survivor to Another

Humans crave touch, which can mean different things to different people…

Someone may desire to be touched physically in a manner that reflects passion, desire, love, or care, releasing hormones that promote trust and bonding. The physical touch can be delivered by a loved one, a random person (when standing close to each other in the elevator, for example), or even an animal. A lack of physical touch may result in touch starvation or skin hunger. 

Emotional touch is when a living creature, whether an animal or another human being, is able to connect with your thoughts, feelings, intellect, mind, or soul in a way that makes you feel valued, appreciated, and respected. This can take the form of a meaningful look exchanged in line at the grocery store, a random conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop. Moments like this may make you feel like you have known this person for years while you have just met for the first time. These brief moments cannot always be acted upon and may just remain random memories that you hold onto as a trail of lights illuminating your path through life, but sometimes, when the time or place is right, they may lead you to expand your social circle by finding more like-minded people with whom you share priorities and values. 

Cancer survivors may have a conflicting relationship with touch. They may desire more touch to help soothe and comfort themselves, but may be concerned to be a burden to loved ones. Survivors may be apprehensive given contamination risk from infections (please ask your provider for advice). Physical touch may also release negative emotions or repressed memories that have kept one from progressing in their healing.  Touch can be physically painful depending on the nature and lingering effects of cancer treatments.

The point I’m trying to make is that cancer survivors are still human, although our preferences for touch may have changed. Please be kind to yourself and openly communicate with loved ones to ensure that your needs, wants, and boundaries are being respected. Let them know how you’d love to stay in touch!


And now…..drum roll…..! I am very excited to be able to announce today’s launch of our Facebook group for post-treatment cancer survivors, who have completed their active therapy phase (i.e.. surgery, radiation, chemotherapy). For now, we will only focus on this specific group, but please note that there are other Facebook groups for those living with cancer and/or undergoing active therapies. My hope is that this Facebook group will provide a sense of community, validation, empowerment, and a safe place for healing. We are stronger together! Please let others know about this resource. This group does not offer medical advice (see Facebook group rules and disclaimers on https://cancersurvivormd.org/disclaimers/).


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