Despite how healthy we are, how much we exercise or what we choose to eat, none of us are immune to cancer. We know this, and yet the word “cancer” is perhaps the most frightening word in medicine, despite that patient survival rates are increasing all the time.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you’re probably wondering what comes next – emotionally, physically and practically. Navigating the next few months is going to be challenging and overwhelming, so here are six tips to help you take back control of your life after a cancer diagnosis.
Deal With the Shock
A state of shock and disbelief is the first stage of any cancer diagnosis, and such a reaction is entirely normal. Allow yourself a period of time to work through this phase emotionally, whether it’s days or weeks, even if you have to do it alone. After that, however, it’s time to take control of the situation and let your loved ones help.
Rally Your Loved Ones
The biggest mistake any cancer patient can make is to try and go through their illness alone. Rally your loved ones around you and don’t be afraid to lean on them for support. It’s a good idea to pick one person – such as a spouse, close friend or parent – to be your “partner” during this time.
Over the next few months, you’re going to have a lot of medical appointments and information thrown at you, so you need to find a way to stay organized. Use a notepad to jot down any questions you have or any advice you’re given, or ask a friend or family member to do this for you. It’s a good idea to get a calendar for your wall or fridge (if you don’t have one already), so that important dates and appointments remain visible.
Beware of the Internet
While the Internet can be a valuable source of medical information, it’s also full of false claims and untrustworthy advice. Therefore, it’s best to limit your searches to a few trusted sources, such as American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. The Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF) is also a wonderful resource where you can read inspiring stories about young PCRF Scholarship winners, many of whom have overcome some incredible odds in their cancer battles.
Understand Your Options
Your cancer treatment plan will depend on many factors, including the type of cancer you have and its location and stage of development, as well as your goals for treatment and quality of life. To make an informed decision about your cancer treatment, you will need to understand your options, some of which include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. Speak to your doctor to determine the best treatment route for you.
Get a Second Opinion
Cancer treatment can be complicated, and different doctors will have different philosophies and approaches. Whether or not you get a second opinion is entirely up to you, but it can help you to feel more confident in your treatment plan, and some medical insurance companies require it.