You felt your heart pounding in your chest, your throat tightened, you forgot to breathe. Your adrenaline kicked in and there was a loud static noise in your ears. The health care provider was talking to you, but you couldn’t hear anymore. You just found out you have cancer.
A diagnosis like that is often a shocking surprise. Your life seems to turn on a dime and you’re not sure where it’s going. It’s important to feel like you can manage everything that is happening to you and stay sane in the process. While nothing about cancer is easy, we hope these tips can help you better navigate the unfamiliar territory of fighting cancer.
Your health decisions should be in your hands. While you might not be a doctor or fully understand your condition, you can choose who your doctor is and what treatments you receive. To really gain control over your health, you can start seeing specialists who are experts in your condition. Take the time to discuss what treatment options are available and which would benefit you the most. Once you choose a path with your specialist, stick to it.
You are not alone. Although you may feel isolated and lonely, you are not the only person who has been diagnosed with cancer. Support groups and other resources can help you learn about and cope with your diagnosis. Cancer isn’t just a physical disease; it also takes a toll on your mental and emotional health. Take advantage of the abundance of educational materials and personal help to strengthen your mental and emotional health.
Don’t Play the Blame-game
Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone and it’s important to stay away from feeling like you did something wrong. Blaming yourself for what happened will only hinder your healing process. Staying positive can help you along the road to recovery and help your mental state in the long run.
Don’t Go Google Crazy
The Internet can be a scary, scary place. It’s filled with scientific information and technical medical terms. Have you ever had a minor physical problem that you tried to Google? The Internet goes deep into symptoms, causes, problems, and everything else you sometimes would rather not know. Consider foregoing looking up information on your condition and stay in a mentally happier place.
Start Getting Second Opinions
Your care should be honest and comfortable. If you don’t feel right with the opinions or tests one doctor prescribes, go see another. It never hurts to double check. You want a doctor that is best for you and best at what they do.
The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow
And that’s all you need to focus on. You can get to tomorrow, and after that there will be another tomorrow. Dwelling on the future can cause a lot of anxiety. Help yourself by taking things one day at a time.
Keeping your family up-to-date on what’s going on can seem stressful, but they really care about you and it’s not a burden - they want to help shoulder the load! Use technology to your advantage if you have a large group of people you want to keep informed. Start a group text or a mass email so that you can get everything communicated once. Or, you can even filter questions through someone else, like a significant other, parent, or sibling. That way, you have a personal liaison who can take some of the pressure off of you.
You Deserve to Feel as Good as Possible
So, if the prescribed procedures are causing physical changes, find any and every way to still feel good about yourself. Whether it’s a wig, a hairpiece, or make-up tips, you deserve to feel good. Men and women can both find assistance with the physical changes caused by cancer treatments. The Look Good, Feel Better organization has health and beauty tips for both men and women. When you feel good about yourself, you feel happier, and being happy is a great help on the road to recovery.
Your family and friends want to help, so if you don’t feel like going grocery shopping one day, chances are someone will be glad to run to the store for you. Your friends and family want to help, but they might not know how. All you have to do is ask.
Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is very difficult. UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's Hospital is here for you and your family during every step of your journey with services that treat mind, body and spirit. Plus, we're treating cancer earlier than ever before with state-of-the-art cancer risk assessments that find cancer at the earliest stages, when it's easiest to treat. Take control of your diagnosis today and learn more about our treatment options.
It’s never easy to hear a cancer diagnosis. Luckily, UnityPoint Health - Finley Hospital will be on your side with top-of-the-line cancer services. We provide elite cancer care that’s close to home. Start your journey with help from Finley Hospital.