Few things in life are as distressing as receiving a cancer diagnosis. It’s something we hear about happening to other people. But when it happens to us or someone close to us, the whole world stands still.
On hearing the ‘c-word’ it’s natural to be gripped with fear and to assume the worst. However, it’s important to understand that cancer treatment options have progressed significantly over the last few years and the outlook needn’t be negative. Treatments such as HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) and Immunotherapy, etc. can be harnessed to conquer many types of cancer.
Absorb The Information
On receiving a diagnosis, you’re likely to experience a whole range of emotions such as sadness, fear, anger, guilt, confusion, denial, anxiety, depression, etc. This is all completely normal. It’s important to take some time to digest the information. Once the initial shock has worn off, you’re likely to have lots of questions. Try to write them down so you can raise them at your next medical appointment. Feeling able to communicate with your medical team is important.
If you think you may be depressed or feel unable to cope, it’s important to speak to your doctor. He or she can offer advice and support and help you through this difficult time.
You’re likely to be faced with decisions regarding treatment. This can seem extremely daunting. It’s important to discuss those options and decisions with the people closest to you. If you feel unsure or confused, then speak to your health care professionals. It’s important to understand the options fully before reaching a decision.
Your Support Network
When dealing with any difficult news, it’s always good to have people around you who to offer support. This may be family and close friends. Organizations such as the American Cancer Society can also provide information and point to you to other areas of support and assistance.
You may feel reluctant to share the news for fear of burdening those closest to you. But it’s important to remember that they will want to support you. Often people don’t know how to react to the news or what to say. Try to make allowances for them if you can and explain to them what you need. This may be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.
It can also be helpful to take someone close to you along to medical meetings. They can listen and write down information, or just offer some support.
Taking Care Of Yourself
After a cancer diagnosis, or any diagnosis, it’s important to take steps to look after yourself. This includes mentally and physically. Your medical team will be able to advise further on this. You should always check with them regarding changes to diet and activities, etc. However, there are general steps you can take such as:
- Making lots of time to rest and relax
- Focusing on positive aspects of your life
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet
- Taking moderate exercise, with advice from your medical team
- Spending time with friends and family
- Talking to a therapist
- Taking up meditation or mindfulness to calm and soothe your mind
For many of us, receiving a cancer diagnosis is one of our worst fears. The feelings of terror and devastation cannot be underestimated. So it’s important to be kind to yourself, give yourself some time, accept help from others and understand that there is a way forward.