Experts say that 1 out of every 3 people will get a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, so knowing what to do next is crucially important. The good news is you can read about how to deal with a diagnosis of cancer below, as well as the things you can do to make such a tough situation a little easier on you.
Educate yourself on your diagnosis
Being diagnosed with cancer can be very scary, but one way to retain a feeling of control in uncertain times is to educate yourself on your diagnosis, the treatments available to you, your prognosis, what you can expect during treatment, and what could happen if you don’t seek proper treatment.
Researching the specific type of cancer you have can be particularly helpful, as cancer is a very broad term for a whole range of cell-based diseases that can occur in very different places in the body. For instance, the average woman with invasive breast cancer that is only located in the breast and seeks treatment has a 99% survival rate over five years. Whereas it’s only 12-21 months of treatment for the average person diagnosed with mesothelioma. This is because mesothelioma, a topic you can read more about by clicking the link, is a rarer, but particularly aggressive form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
There are many places you can find helpful information on your cancer diagnosis including charities and experts online, but your first port of call should always be your medical specialist, as they will have specific information on your case.
Keep living well
Receiving a cancer diagnosis can seem like a life sentence, and make it feel like your life is falling apart. Many people will be left reeling, and struggling to see the point in doing everyday things and living their life in a normal way.
Of course, taking some time to process your diagnosis and plan out your next actions can be both necessary and helpful. Although, abandoning the regular things in your life for too long can also be a bad idea.
Now we are not saying that you won’t have bad days emotionally or low energy dates, where you will need more rest, especially when doing through treatment, but keeping to a modified routine can help you focus on your recovery by eating healthy meals, getting plenty of rest, and even exercising under the guidance of your doctor. As you do this it can help to think about the activities that hold the most value to you and prioritize doing them over other things.
Prepare for changes you may experience during treatment
Going through treatment can be a challenging time, and you can expect there to be some changes big and small in your life. Preparing for these can make it easier to deal with them when they happen.
One of the most significant changes that those going through cancer treatment may experience is losing their hair due to chemotherapy. Prepping for this change may involve buying head coverings to stay warm, or wigs to give the illusion of hair even while treatment is ongoing. Some people even choose to shave their heads before their hair starts to fall out, as this can make the experience less pronounced when it does happen.
It’s also a good idea to consider how your treatment may impact your daily life and the changes you may need to make surrounding this. For example, you may need to rearrange your schedule for outpatient appointments, or you may need to stay in the hospital, take time off work, or need more rest at home.
Communicate with loved ones
Receiving a cancer diagnosis can feel very isolating, especially if you try to protect those around you from the emotional impact. With this in mind, it can be better for everyone involved if you talk honestly with your loved ones about your diagnosis and how you are feeling.
Indeed, when you maintain honest communication, it makes it easier to ask for support when you need it and can help you feel less alone as you navigate your path post-diagnosis.
Find a peer support group
In addition to seeking support from those that you love; it can be very helpful to connect with people that are going through or have been through the same experience. A peer support group is a very good way of finding this type of support, especially as you can often choose to attend them in person or online, which can make it easier for those struggling with their energy levels.
If you can look for a group that is run by an official organization like a charity like the American Cancer Society or the hospital you are attending for your treatment. Also, where possible look for groups that are put together to support people with the specific type of cancer you have been diagnosed with, as they are likely to have the most similar experience to what you are currently going through, as will be able to offer the most relevant and helpful advice.
Think about the financial impact your diagnosis may have
Unfortunately, receiving a cancer diagnosis can also lead to a major change in your financial situation. This is because you will not only have to deal with the cost of treatment, but the impact that not working as you go through treatment and recovery can have on your finances.
The good news is there is plenty of support available for those going through cancer treatment, and a great place to find out where you can access this is to ask your medical team at the hospital. It’s also a very good idea to speak to your insurance company and get a detailed breakdown of which costs are covered and which you may have to pay for out of pocket.
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can be extremely challenging. However, there are both strategies you can use, as well as people you can receive help from that can make the challenge a little easier to bear.
Tione is a full-time student and a Blogger. When she is not in class she is actively working on her blog.