The word “cancer” may easily be the one the worst words a person can hear. Suddenly everything about life is seen through a new set of lenses – lenses that magnify things, make others blurry and some impossible to see. As the initial shock wears off, one is faced with the physical, emotional and spiritual challenges before them.
Patients respond to this news differently. Some strongly rise to the challenge and refuse to lose while others feel a tremendous sense of loss and inability to fight. As all of this turmoil surrounds them, it is also time to develop a plan to fight the cancer.
Every journey is unique but here are some ideas on steps you can take to manage your life after a cancer diagnosis:
- Don’t go it alone. Find someone to share the journey with. It may be a spouse, family member or close friend and it should be someone you feel you can talk openly with.
- Research and learn. Take the necessary steps to learn all you can about your cancer diagnosis and treatment options. Sometimes too much information creates an overload that causes more stress and remember, not everything you read on the internet is the gospel truth. Begin with the web sites for the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute and take it at your pace.
- Consider getting a second, perhaps even a third, opinion. Different doctors and cancer treatment centers have different philosophies and approaches. A second opinion can help you feel more confident in your treatment plan.
- Use trusted sources for additional information. Your aunt, cousin, neighbor or friend may have known someone with cancer and offer you an opinion. Remember, they are trying to help so hear them out and gently tell them that you appreciate their concern but each diagnosis is unique.
- Get organized. Start a notebook or binder to coordinate appointments, doctors’ phone numbers, and the information you collect along the way. Take it to your appointments and use it to make lists of questions you want to ask your doctors on your next visit.
No one will fully understand what you’re going through but tackling this with someone at your side will be a bigger help than you may realize.