If you have just been diagnosed with cancer, chances are you are feeling confused and overwhelmed. A diagnosis of this sort comes with lots of information that takes tremendous time and attention to dissect and absorb. With each new bit of information comes lots of new questions, and it is often difficult to know where to turn for all of the answers.
During this time, it is important for you to know that you are not alone. You are surrounded by a support system of others whose lives have also been affected by cancer, and who have knowledge, advice, and guidance to share. These people have learned how to wage a war against cancer, and it is our hope that you use the information provided through this website to join them. Most cancers are treatable and respond well to treatment, and this is important to keep in mind. There is also a great, free online support community run by the American Cancer Society called the Survivors Network. Learn more about this group at http://csn.cancer.org.
Coping Skills You Will Need In Your War On Cancer
There are a few coping skills that typically especially help those who have recently been diagnosed with cancer:
- Educate yourself as much as possible about your type of cancer, your treatment options, and the physicians who can treat you. You can visit the American Cancer Society’s website or call them for lots of valuable information at: www.cancer.org, 1-800-227-2345.
- Find an outlet for your feelings and a way to pamper yourself or do something you enjoy each day.
- Reach out to support groups with people who truly understand and have been in your shoes.
How To Deal With Your Cancer Diagnosis
If you have received a cancer diagnosis, it is also important to do a few things first and foremost:
- Don’t rush things. Talk to multiple physicians to get multiple opinions, and spend some time choosing the right doctors.
- Make individualized treatment choices after you have had time to review the following factors: the type of cancer you have, the extent of that cancer, and your personal needs.
- Discuss your staging system with a trusted physician. A staging system sums up the extent of your cancer and helps you to better evaluate treatment options. This system is often referred to as the TNM classification system, as it evaluates the Tumor, lymph Nodes, and Metastasized areas (extent of spreading) of the cancer.
- Research local clinical trials and ask your physician if their medical facility participates in them. You can also ask your doctor if they feel that participation in a clinical trial might be something that would be both available and of service to you.
- Educate yourself on available assistance programs to help make a difficult time a bit more simple. The American Cancer Society offers a Hope Lodge program which helps obtain hotel rooms for people traveling to get treatment. They also offer “I can cope” classes and transportation assistance. Knowing all of your support options is important.
- Come prepared with a list of questions when you visit your physician. It is a good idea to think of specific questions that might help you better understand the treatment process ahead and your specific cancer.
Important Questions For Your Doctor
Examples of helpful questions for your trusted physician:
- What type of cancer do I have and where is it located?
- How often have you treated this type of cancer and what treatments have you found to be most successful?
- What are the pros and cons of the treatment process you are suggesting?
- How often will I need to visit for treatments and how long will my treatment sessions last? What are their side effects?
- When and how will we evaluate the treatment to see if it is working well for me? If it is not, what are some alternatives?
- Is there anything I should do to prepare for treatment, or a special diet I should follow?
- How much will this treatment process cost me and is it covered by insurance?
- What is my outlook for the future with this treatment plan?
- Are you available to be reached easily if I have questions or concerns? How?
- Am I able to potentially take part in a clinical trial? Is this something I should consider?
Getting Useful Information About Your Diagnosis In Writing
Because the amount of information provided can be so overwhelming at this time, it is also a good idea to ask your doctor to write down some key notes for you, which you can refer back to and carry with you at any time. The most valuable information to have on hand is:
- Your formal diagnosis and stage of cancer
- The names of any medications you will be taking as part of your treatment, with a brief explanation of what each is for
- Any side effects or reactions you should be on the look out for which would warrant a call to the doctor right away
- The names and contact numbers of each of the specialists you may be working with during your treatment process
Perhaps most importantly, keep in mind that whatever fluctuation of feelings you are experiencing right now is normal. Many people diagnosed go through a myriad of emotions while dealing with their cancer. Finding your own way to cope, discuss things, and educate yourself on the best choices moving forward is all part of the process.