Psycho-Oncology: Caring for Body & Mind

Elizabeth Harvey
Elizabeth Harvey, PhD

Listen in as Alicia and Lizette from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) speak with psycho-oncologist, Elizabeth Harvey. Elizabeth works with and supports cancer patients, their families and caregivers throughout their cancer journey. Elizabeth has spent over 20 years working in research for cancer drug development and also worked alongside the late Dr. Jimmie Holland, a Founder of psycho-oncology. Elizabeth shines light on the fact that many times there is failure to address the psychosocial concerns that are associated with cancer. On this episode, she discusses the history of psycho-oncology, its purpose within the field of oncology, her work as a psycho-oncologist, and the support needed to help one cope with their cancer experience.

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  1. A Cancer diagnosis really turn your world upside down! It affects your whole body. I received help from a counselor and there were times that I don’t know if I would have kept my sanity through it all! There is a lot more to cancer than just the cancer, it’s a disease of the whole family, it affects your job the income your family has, medical expenses, caregiving, relationships. The person themselves change, they maybe grieving the loss of a body part, who they are now – a patient, a new way of life, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. A counselor can help out things in perspective, give suggestions, be a resource for help, etc. This conversation on Psycho-Oncology pointed out the benefits for this type of counselor. It can all be so overwhelming, having someone to express their thoughts, fears, anxiety and receiving information for resources or how to navigate the medical community.

    1. Hi Marcia,

      We are so happy to hear that you received the help you needed. A cancer diagnosis is something no one can prepare for, which makes getting proper help so important. If you have any questions or would like to speak with one of our Information Specialists, please call (800) 955-4572, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

      We wish you well!

      The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

    2. Yes, there IS HOPE!
      In 1976, I was diagnosed with leukemia, and am so very fortunate to still be here, virtually in one piece, so to speak! It was not until just recently that Mom told me the doctor didn’t think I would much longer; maybe a few more years…
      I cannot forget the day when my doctor told me we were going for a 100% cure and I said to him: “LET’S GO!”

  2. My wife of 48 years passed away five months ago, ten months after my diagnosis with multiple myeloma. She Was very Ill with complications from Parkinson’s the last five months of her life. I had help from our daughters, but this was a truly bad time. I am glad for this podcast because I did not know about the help available from psycho-oncologists. I am going to look into getting an appointment with one in order to get help with the grief of losing my wife and with the cancer issues. The combination of the two is more than I can deal with and something that grief counselors are probably not going to be ready to handle.

    1. Hi Bill,

      We are so sorry to hear about the passing of your wife. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

      Psycho-oncology addresses the aspects of cancer that go beyond medical treatment and include lifestyle, psychological and social aspects of cancer. If you have any questions about this podcast and other support resources, please contact one of our LLS Information Specialists. You can speak one-on-on with one of our Information Specialists by please calling (800) 955-4572, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. or emailing

      For information about our myeloma resources, please visit

      We wish you well!

      1. Bill, that really is a double whammy. I am sorry for your loss. I live alone and it was suggested I see a therapist so about 6 months after chemo I did and he has been an enormous help to me and source of support. I live alone and am not close to family who lives far away geographically so it was important to get help.

        also i read a book called “abandonment to divine providence” which is a catholic classic that helped me spiritually get through this time.

        You are now on my prayer list.

        Best wishes,

  3. Another excellent podcast from One area that was not mentioned was PEOPLE THAT LIVE ALONE and do not have family members involved at all in their life. That is my situation. The effects of the treatment were very socially isolating for me. In my last job I worked at home in sales over the phone which was a blessing as it was part time. I could barely make it through the shifts. Fortunately I was just turning 62 that November when I was diagnosed and I was able to retire in January of 2016. Another blessing.

    As Ms Harvey mention people can also desert you. This was true for me. My closest friend was to take me shopping once a month but failed to contact me for the 3 months I went through chemo and the friendship ended. I was shocked and couldn’t believe it. But Ms Harvey was right in that other people (neighbors from my apartment complex) and several people from my church stepped in to help me in different ways. They helped alot with groceries and rides to chemo. helped with their podcast on Cancer Related Fatigue syndrome which helped me understand better what I was going through. I used this as part of my disability case. The judge was incredulous that my oncologist or pcp ever wrote me a script for a walker which I needed. A neighbor gave me one 1.6 months after chemo ended and I use it alot. The judge was stunned that my red blood cells were still anemic 1.8 yrs after chemo. You are totally right about “don’t ask don’t tell.’ I feel like everytime I see my nurse I feel she doesn’t want to hear anything from me that isnt positive.

    The other big point not really addressed is the spiritual side of coping with the Cancer Related Fatigue Syndrome. Your church and/or clergy has an important role to play as well. Last summer i was feeling “battle fatigued” even though in remission for one year and I had the roman catholic “sacrament of the sick” which helped me enormously spiritually to keep going.

    Remember, there are people out there dealing with this who don’t have families and for them it is even more isolating. Therapy and spirituality help alot with this.

    At my nurse practitioner and lawyer recommended that I get therapy so I got a therapist and a case manager through my healthcare clinic.

    1. Thank you so much for listening to The Bloodline with LLS and providing such great feedback. We will certainly keep the topics you suggested in mind to discuss on future episodes. If you have any questions regarding diagnosis, treatment and support, please call an LLS Information Specialist by calling (800) 955-4572 Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

      We wish you well!

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