How Do You View Your Pain?

Copyright 2001 Cancer Care Inc.
Used here with permission

(Article originally developed for people with cancer, but many of the same ideas apply to any form of chronic pain)

What you think about your pain can affect how you react to it. Some people believe they must endure pain, either because of their culture, or an expectation to “be brave”. Others may consider pain a punishment for past sins or evil thoughts. You may have the misunderstanding that taking pain medication leads to addiction. Still others may think pain is a sign their cancer is getting worse, which is not always the case. How your family and friends react to your pain may influence if and how you talk about your pain. It is important for you to look at what you believe about your pain, as it may be affecting your ability to ask for help with it. Take time to ask yourself some questions:

  • Do I ask for help with my pain? If not, why not? What happens if I do ask for help with my pain? Am I being listened to and taken seriously? How is my pain affecting my ability to engage in activities that I consider important to my well being? Work, social activities, normal daily routines?

Hopefully after spending some time in this section you will understand that your pain can and should be treated. Unless you tell your health care providers, family or friends about the pain you are experiencing they will not know, and cannot offer you help.

The following points in the “Bill of Rights for People With Cancer Pain” can help you remember what you are entitled to regarding care for your pain.

  • You have the right to have pain relieved by health professionals, family, friends and others around you. Your comfort is an important part of health. Pain relief should be treated as a priority. You have the right to have pain controlled, no matter what its cause or how severe it may be. You have the right to be treated with respect at all times. Appropriate use of pain medications is not drug abuse. It is legal and important to your treatment. You have the right to have pain caused by procedures and treatments prevented or at least minimized. You have a responsibility to help manage your pain.

*Source: Cancer Care Inc., Iowa Cancer Pain Relief Initiative and the Wisconsin Cancer Pain Initiative.