A cancer diagnosis is shocking and emotional—this news can transform your entire reality. Coping with the diagnosis and starting to organize the details may sound overwhelming. You might not even know where to begin. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help cancer patients adjust emotionally and prepare for treatment. Here are some basic steps you can take to get ready for the journey ahead.
Learn about your diagnosis
It’s important to gather as much information as possible following your cancer diagnosis. Ask questions about the diagnostic tests and your results. For example, if you had an MRI for cancer screening, ask to see the images. Your doctor can show you the location and the size of the tumor or lump. This way, you’ll be able to better understand the disease. You can also begin discussing potential treatment options. However, don’t force yourself to take in too much information or make multiple decisions all at once. Tell your doctor if you need time to process. They can schedule a follow-up appointment to choose a course of treatment and give you resources to consider in the meantime.
Process your emotions
As you process the diagnosis and the resulting emotions, try to find healthy ways to do so. You might start a journal to log your thoughts during this journey. It can also be helpful to talk to a friend, make an appointment with a therapist, or create a painting. Remember that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Crying, expressing frustration, and having low days are all part of the process. Your team of health care providers is available to help you cope and find healthy ways to cope.
Cancer treatment can turn your life around, so you’ll want to be fully prepared. Create a system for tracking medical appointments and alert your employer that you’ll be undergoing cancer treatment. Since treatment can be financially challenging for many people, you might look into financial help for cancer patients treatment as well. Organizations and government programs are available to help you cover expenses like medical bills and childcare. This help can be especially valuable if you need to be out of work for an extended period of time.
Find a support system
You don’t need to go through treatment on your own. To ensure that you have the support you need, find your team early on in the process. Ask a partner, friend, or family member to attend treatments with you, and don’t hesitate to tell friends how they can best support you. Support groups for cancer patients are another great resource. By attending these meetings, you can foster empathy and meet friends who are going through the same challenges. You will likely cope more effectively when you have several sources of support to lean on.
Take care of yourself
A cancer diagnosis can be a whirlwind, so it’s easy to forget basic self-care. Talk to your health care team about ways to meet your wellness needs. They may recommend types of exercise and other activities to keep you feeling your best. Remember that your mental health matters as well, so consider seeing a therapist who has experience working with cancer patients. Techniques like mindfulness and medication may also be helpful. While it can be challenging to live a “normal” life while going through cancer treatment, you might find it comforting to keep up with daily routines.
Remember that no two cancer patients are alike. You have your own physical, emotional, and mental health needs. By prioritizing self-care and talking to your health care providers, you can cope with your initial diagnosis and move forward. The right support system and mental perspective can help you stay positive through this challenging experience.