5 Things To Do If You Get A Cancer Diagnosis
It feels like the worst day of your life. Your doctor has just delivered the news. Your test came back positive and you’ve got cancer. These were the words you’ve feared since you started the process. But hold on for a minute. Knowledge is power. Rather than focus on the dark side, now is the time to take control of your situation. It’s going to be an uphill battle, for sure, but you can do a lot of things to ease the way and take care of yourself during this trying time.
Here are five tips that will lift your spirits and make life a lot better, both short and long term.
1. Become an Information Sponge
Once you heard that you have cancer, you may not have heard a whole lot else. Perhaps your health care provider used terms that are unfamiliar to you, or maybe your thoughts were drifting. That’s OK. Now is the time to start taking notes. Your job is to become an expert at your specific diagnosis. Call your doctor back if you need to, and write down exactly the type and stage of cancer you have. Write down treatment options. Then get busy. It’s as easy as typing the information into your favorite search engine. Do rely on trusted sources, such as the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society, which provide good, easy-to-understand information. Write down questions that come up for your next doctor’s appointment. You may want to keep a dedicated notebook or file you can access on your smartphone.
2. Accept Assistance
Too often, we’re stubborn and think we can handle everything ourselves. We don’t want to burden anyone with our problems. Don’t fall into the trap of stewing in your own juices. Admittedly, it’s hard to ask for help. But guess what? It’s hard for your friends and family to know how to offer. You may get a lot of people saying, “If there’s anything I can do to help.” That’s very vague. Their hearts are in the right place but they don’t know what you need. Assistance, it turns out, is a two way street. Get out that notebook and start brainstorming about specific ways people can help. Need a ride somewhere? Need some shopping done? A meal cooked? Kids driven to activities? These are all reasonable requests and chances are your friends and family will jump at the chance to take on assignments.
3. Prepare for Physical Changes
Cancer treatment has come a long way, but it can still be quite harsh on the body. Some drugs cause hair loss. That’s because the treatment targets rapidly dividing cells, and your hair is created by rapidly dividing cells. It’s only temporary, but you need to find solutions that work for you, whether it’s a wig, a stylish head covering or deciding to go the hipster route and shave your head.
4. Employ Relaxation Techniques
This is a truly stressful time. Aside from dealing with the unknown, you are experiencing a lot of roller coaster feelings. To help you from becoming overwhelmed, practice relaxation methods – become familiar with breathing techniques. Try out different kinds of meditation. There are even podcasts that offer guided meditation. They can be extremely effective and you don’t have to leave your home.
5. Find a support group
Speaking of classes, there are a huge number of support groups in your area. Some are general, and some are designed to be quite specific. If you are a man with prostate cancer, for instance, you may feel more comfortable discussing details with other men.
For more information about Crozer-Keystone Health System Cancer Services, visit http://ckcancer.crozerkeystone.org. You can also call 1-866-695-HOPE (4673) to request an appointment with a physician who cares for cancer patients.