Are you trying to cope with a cancer diagnosis? You’re not alone. Over 18 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer each year. You may have been recently diagnosed or been undergoing treatment for a while. No matter where you are in your journey, here are some resources to help you cope with a cancer diagnosis.
Your Journey Matters
Your journey is important. You might have beaten the odds for mesothelioma survival rates or be coping with a recent breast cancer diagnosis. Wherever you are in your cancer journey, it is important, and your feelings are valid. As much as possible, try not to compare yourself to others and discredit how you are feeling. Cancer can impact your physical and emotional health, so be kind to yourself and acknowledge that how you feel is valid.
Gather The Key Facts From Your Doctor
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is an emotional time. When you are first diagnosed, you may not be equipped to ask your doctor essential questions about your potential treatment options.
Before you attend your next appointment with your doctor, write down some questions you’d like to ask. Some examples of questions you can ask may include:
- What kind of cancer do I have, and where is it?
- Is my cancer treatable, and what are the treatment options?
- What are the side effects of treatment?
- How long will treatment take, and what can I expect?
Try to gather as much useful information as you can. If you find it hard, bring a loved one or trusted friend to help you ask the questions and gather the information.
Consider A Support Group
A support group can help you cope with a cancer diagnosis, as it puts you in touch with other individuals undergoing cancer treatment. Depending on your treatment journey and what you are comfortable with, you might want to join a digital or online support group. Many support groups are tailored to specific cancer types, so you should be able to find one that suits your specific needs.
Remember that no two individual journeys are the same. You might find a support group gives you comfort in your journey, or you may discover that it isn’t the right path for you. If you don’t feel comfortable with a support group, you might want to consider 1-2-1 counseling with a qualified professional.
Listen To Your Emotions
A cancer diagnosis can stir up many emotions. You may feel different from one moment to the next. This is normal and can be expected at any stage of your cancer journey. You might feel like you need to be strong for your family or that you need the support of a professional to help you adjust to your diagnosis. What you feel is valid. Each individual will have their own background and experience with cancer before the diagnosis, which will influence how you react to your situation.
You may feel some of the below emotions when you are coping with cancer:
If you think that you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, seek professional help and support with your diagnosis.
Be Honest With Your Loved Ones
A cancer diagnosis is an incredibly personal thing, and it can be easy to retreat into yourself. As much as possible, communicate and be honest with your loved ones. They might act differently than they usually would around you, which might make you feel hurt or frustrated. You might want to act strong but then feel unsupported if they think you are coping better than you actually are. Be honest with your loved ones about how you are feeling.
Look After Yourself
Look after yourself physically and mentally. Eating healthily and getting enough sleep will help with the resources you need to manage your treatment. Keeping to a set routine will also give you solid foundations for coping with a diagnosis and give you a sense of stability.
Exercising and participating in hobbies you enjoy will also ensure you keep your mood high. Looking after yourself can also play a significant role in your recovery. Be realistic about what you can achieve, depending on your treatment plan.
Find Ways To Manage Poor Sleep
Poor sleep is incredibly common when you are coping with a cancer diagnosis. Sleep can evade you for different reasons, including worry, medication, or treatments. If you are having difficulty sleeping, you might want to consider the following:
- Asking your doctor for advice on poor sleep
- Consider therapy to help talk through your fears and worries
- Reviewing your bedtime habits
- Reducing your caffeine intake
Your doctor may prescribe some short-term medicine to help you sleep or refer you for lab tests or counseling for insomnia.
Plan How To Talk To Your Kids
If you have a family, your first thoughts after a cancer diagnosis might be how to talk to your kids. When sharing the news of your diagnosis, try to use simple language and be specific with the type of cancer you have. You might want to share with your children that your treatment might make you look different than usual. You could explain how the cancer treatment might make you feel more tired than usual.
There is no easy way to prepare yourself for a cancer diagnosis. But informing yourself about the side effects of your treatment plan might help you cope. For example, you might discover that a common side effect of chemotherapy is hair loss. You might want to explore different ways to prevent hair loss or aesthetic ways to reduce the appearance of hair loss, like wigs. Although it might be initially distressing to research these topics, it may help you feel more equipped to cope with your cancer diagnosis.
There is no set path to coping with a cancer diagnosis. Each person is unique and will find different ways to manage their emotions and treatment journey. The most important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself and let your family and friends support you. You may want to consider counseling or support groups as an additional resource. How you feel is valid, whether you’ve just been diagnosed or just finished treatment.