20 Jul 5 Tips for Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis
Learning that you have cancer is an incredibly painful experience. Just as cancer affects your physical health, it also influences your emotional health. The symptoms and side effects of the disease can result in physical and emotional struggles that seem unusual, overwhelming, and intimidating.
Our team at Alabama Cancer Care has compiled tips and suggestions for helping you and your loved ones navigate this time of coping with your cancer diagnosis. Our goal is to start your journey with trust and hope so that you feel supported and cared for while being treated at our care centers.
1. Ask Questions
The first step of coping with your cancer diagnosis is to get on the same page with your doctors and treatment team. When meeting with your oncologist, try to gather the basics. Collecting useful information about your cancer diagnosis will help you to make the best decisions about your care.
Before you have a meeting, write down all the questions that you have. Think about inquiries on the type of cancer you have, treatment options, and potential side effects. It’s also good to ask about health resources, support groups, radiation therapy, emergency protocol, and setting your expectations.
2. Include your Friends and Family
It’s natural to want to keep bad news from those that you love. However, withholding your cancer diagnosis from your loved ones can lead to isolation. When you let others that you trust in the process with you, you can grieve, celebrate, and support each other.
You’re not meant to bear the burden of a cancer diagnosis on your own. Allowing your friends and family to help you doesn’t show weakness, but kindness. Your loved ones want to be able to contribute to your well being. Accepting a ride, a dinner, help around the house, or even just a phone call will strengthen your support group.
3. Expect Physical Changes to Occur
Before starting treatment and after you receive your cancer diagnosis, it is ideal to prepare for possible physical changes. If your cancer treatment causes hair loss, weight gain or loss, or other physical limitations, plan for these ahead of time. If you want hairpieces, wigs, or hats, go ahead and purchase them. It’s also a reasonable time to ask your doctor for information on a local cancer support group, for these members could provide advice for this time.
You’ll also want to prepare for changes in your day to day life. If your cancer diagnosis affects your job, household, and daily tasks, you’ll want to plan to handle these things ahead of time. Making arrangements for changes at the beginning of your cancer journey will allow you to focus on your health during cancer treatment.
4. Take Time to Process your Emotions
Your emotions during your cancer journey may change daily, even hourly. A cancer diagnosis not only brings about new feelings but also heightens existing emotions. It’s important to know that whatever feelings you have during this time are entirely reasonable. There is no right and wrong to how you process your cancer diagnosis. The only thing you need to do is be honest.
Cancer patients often feel overwhelmed, anger, denial, fear, stress, sadness, guilt, and loneliness. It’s also normal on a good day to feel hope, peace, and gratitude. Finding a therapist, loved one, or cancer support group to help you process these emotions is critical in maintaining your emotional wellbeing.
5. Keep a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle is critical in keeping your energy up. Your doctors can recommend a specific diet, but eating healthy balanced meals will give your body the nutrients it needs. Exercise, especially by doing an activity that you enjoy, also can help you manage stress and gain strength. Another critical element of a healthy lifestyle is setting a sleep schedule and getting enough sleep every night.
At the end of the day, you’ll want to give yourself some grace. There may be days when you are exhausted and need a nap at 10 a.m., or are craving a large chocolate milkshake. Don’t deny yourself what your body needs. It’s okay if you can’t exercise the same way or as much as you used to. Setting reasonable goals will give you something to work toward, while also not pushing yourself too hard.
Beyond your Cancer Diagnosis, Alabama Cancer Care is Here to Support You
There is no simple way to cope with your cancer diagnosis. For all the questions that you have, our team at Alabama Cancer Care is here to support you. Alabama Cancer Care is an oncology and hematology practice offering understanding and skilled treatment for a wide range of illnesses. For more information, give us a call at the Alabama Cancer Care Center office nearest you.