Living with cancer blog

Personality affects how cancer survivors deal with care

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. August 24, 2013

Are you an introvert or extrovert? Let's reflect on these personality traits.

We all have certain preferences as to how we interact with others, give and receive support, and manage stress and anxiety. It's not something you can change — it's central to who you are.

A person with strong extroverted personality traits thrives by being with others and is usually outgoing and talkative with many social contacts. An introvert loves time alone or in small, intimate gatherings, and probably spends more time thinking about something than talking about it.

At times, I feel like I'm an introvert living in a mostly extroverted world. I really enjoy meeting with and spending time with others as well as socializing and getting out. However, after too much of this, I need time to myself to recharge and get my energy back. The things I enjoy the most are time spent with one or two close friends, or time alone writing and being creative. That's why I love writing for this blog.

As a cancer survivor, your personality traits affect how you deal with your diagnosis and interact with your care team.

If you're an extrovert, you're likely very open, asking lots of questions of your physician and comfortable sharing the news openly with others. You probably need support and energy from others to help you through this time. Your coping strategies may include interactions with in-person support groups or awareness events, such as walks or runs where you can actively give and receive support from others.

If you're introverted, you're probably more reflective, listening to your physician and writing down questions to ask later. You may prefer to research and reflect on your diagnosis first, before sharing the news with everyone. When you do share the news, it may be with just a few close family and friends. You likely best deal with the stress and emotions of your diagnosis by writing, meditating or being creative.

The point is, we all have different ways of giving and receiving energy to keep us going on an individual level. Not everyone will have the same preferences for communication, interaction and rejuvenation. Look inside for a moment to reflect on what works best for you and then be true to yourself.

I'd love to hear more about how you're doing on this journey.


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Aug. 24, 2013