A New Cancer Diagnosis. Now What?
Whether you are prepared for the news or not, receiving a new cancer diagnosis can often turn the plans and goals you have set in your life upside down. This news can usher in a lot of big decisions for you and your family, and the new information coming into your life can feel extremely overwhelming. Cancer isn’t easy. So, what can you do to manage this new and uncertain chapter?
How You Can Take Control of Your Cancer Diagnosis
If you did not graduate from medical school, you may not understand every term a doctor uses during your visits. You might not have heard of the medications and treatments that are being offered to you. Unfamiliarity is often the root of fear, and new terminology can make a scary situation worse.
The best way to deal with this new information is to ask as many questions as you can. Doctors know that dealing with a new diagnosis can be confusing, and they more than likely have answered thousands of questions similar to yours. No question is too stupid or too pathetic, and even questions you may think are insignificant could help put your mind at ease.
Be sure to bring your questions to your doctor and NOT to an internet search. While online forums and medical websites are a great resource to find quick tips and diverse perspectives, your own doctor knows your case and your body best. Things that apply to other people might not apply to you, and it is important to focus on your unique needs.
If appointments make you too anxious to focus, or you find yourself forgetting what you had planned to ask as soon as you walk in, consider making a list in advance that you can bring in to show your doctor. You could write questions down in your phone as you think of them throughout the day or get a separate notebook to keep all your medical concerns in one place. You could even sit down with a friend or loved one to talk through what kinds of things you plan on asking your doctor about. This way, you can take notes during your appointment or write down key points you will want to remember.
Identifying confusion and getting your questions answered is a key step in tackling your diagnosis. Once you know exactly what you are dealing with, you can minimize the amount of fear and uncertainty you may encounter.
What to Do when You Get a Cancer Diagnosis
You do not have to do this alone, and sharing with loved ones what you are going through can take some of the pressure off. While you may not want to tell anyone right away, sharing your news with others can provide you with much needed support. You will probably discover that the people in your life are willing to help and support you more than you could have thought possible.
Consider what strategies of sharing your news would make you the most comfortable. Some people prefer one-on-one conversations, while others feel most confident posting on social media. It all depends on how you want to handle your own journey.
If you have kids, brainstorm ways on how you can discuss your diagnosis. Depending on their age, some kids will need a simplified version of your situation. Think about what your kids can handle, and evaluate what method might work best in communicating with them. Like you, they might have questions, so be prepared to answer them.
Remember, you can always keep an open communication with your loved ones about your journey with cancer. Just like anyone, you may want company one day and isolation the next. Don’t be afraid to make your needs loud and clear, especially if what you need is space. By building a trusting and supportive system around you, you can focus on your own treatment and healing.
Cancer is not the boss of your body or mind, so you can still take steps on the path to wellness during this journey. If you have been participating in stress-relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, or anything else that has worked for you, now is not the time to stop. Continuing to treat your mind and body well is key in maintaining your strength and mindset.
This can also be a time for you to explore new ways to manage stress and promote wellness. Listen to the needs of your body and mind, and take the time to enjoy yourself every day. Think about what nutrients your body needs most and shop mindfully at your favorite grocery store. If you need help managing your mental health, finding a therapist in your area can be extremely beneficial. Some therapists even specialize in helping cancer patients.
While different stages of treatment may require alterations to how you approach wellness, it is good to have a general wellness plan. Even a few minutes focused on wellness every day will benefit you in your challenges with cancer, as well as your life in general.
How to Help a Loved One Who Was Just Diagnosed with Cancer
When someone you care about is going through a hard time, it is natural to deal with uncertainty about how to help them. Luckily, helping a loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer can be as easy as demonstrating your support. Whether through a call, letter, or home cooked meal, your loved one will know that they can count on you.
Be sure to consider someone’s personality before you make big gestures- a shy and private person might not jump for joy at a surprise cancer fundraiser, but they may prefer some one-on-one time with you, instead. Remember that while cancer may be a big part of their life now, they may not want to exclusively focus on it. Help your loved one with an open mind and heart, and let the best version of yourself support them through their battle.
Cancer Isn’t Easy. But You Can Do This.
A new cancer diagnosis can be challenging, but assembling the tools to tackle it will help you face this chapter of your life with confidence. Take advantage of the resources available to you, and reach out for help when you need it. Though this journey may be scary, you have the strength and resilience to weather this challenge. You got this.