fbpx Triggers vs. Glimmers | CCNM-ICC

A cancer diagnosis, as well as treatment, can be life-altering. The emotional toll of this journey can be immense, and navigating our complex web of emotions is an essential aspect of cancer care. Here we explore the concepts of triggers and glimmers in cancer care, understanding how they impact our emotional well-being and providing some support on how to navigate this journey. 

Triggers are the emotional landmines, and in the context of cancer care, refer to events, situations, or stimuli that evoke intense and often negative emotional responses. These emotional landmines can be anything from the sight of a hospital room to the sound of an ambulance siren. Triggers can manifest in various ways, such as fear, anxiety, sadness, and anger, and are unique to each individual.
Triggers can be:

  • Medical experiences/procedures/treatments and even medical settings. These experiences/places can become triggers, resurfacing fear and anxiety when exposed to similar situations.
  • Loss and Grief: Cancer often involves loss, whether it's the loss of physical health, the ability to engage in previous activities, or the loss of a loved one. Grief-related triggers can be particularly intense and overwhelming.
  • The uncertainty that cancer brings can be a significant trigger for anxiety. Not knowing what the future holds can lead to a constant state of distress.
  • Anniversaries: Significant dates related to the cancer diagnosis, or the start of treatment can also serve as triggers, reminding us of the emotional journey.

Glimmers, on the other hand are our rays of hope in the darkness. These are moments of positivity, hope, and resilience that provide emotional relief and support throughout the journey. Glimmers can play a crucial role in maintaining emotional well-being.

Recognizing and Acknowledging Glimmers:

  • Supportive Relationships: Glimmers often come from the love and support of family and friends. These relationships provide a sense of belonging, security, and emotional comfort.
  • Achieving Milestones: Celebrating small victories and milestones in the treatment process can be a significant glimmer. It reminds us that progress is possible.
  • Engaging in healthy coping mechanisms such as meditation, art therapy, or support groups can provide emotional relief and a sense of control.
  • Medical Advances: Glimmers can also be found in the progress of medical science and the development of new treatments and therapies that offer hope for better outcomes.
  • Personal Growth: Some individuals find personal growth and resilience in the face of adversity to be a glimmer. They discover strength and resilience they didn't know they possessed.

Here are some tips:

  1. Identify Triggers: Recognize and understand the triggers that affect you or your loved ones and develop strategies to cope with them.
  2. Cultivate Glimmers: Actively seek out and foster positive experiences and relationships that can provide emotional relief and support. 
  3. Self-Care: Prioritize self-care and well-being, including physical and emotional health. Engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation.
  4. Seek Professional Help: If triggers are overwhelming or emotional distress is severe, seeking the assistance of a mental health professional can be invaluable.

Cancer care is not just about physical treatments; it's also about managing the emotional journey. Triggers and glimmers play vital roles in this emotional landscape. By understanding these concepts and taking proactive steps to manage triggers while nurturing glimmers, we can better navigate the challenging path that cancer presents. It's a journey that requires resilience, compassion, and a deep appreciation for the moments of hope and support that shine through the darkness.

Author: Eliana Bozikis, CCNM Integrative Cancer Center Intern