What to Do after a Cancer Diagnosis

A cancer diagnosis fills patients with dread that washes over them and places fear into the pit of their stomach. The news is never easily taken, and it may indeed seem like a death sentence. It’s important to remain hopeful, as difficult as it may seem. You’ll need to be able to talk with your loved ones about the condition, and what you’ll be enduring to combat it. Fortunately, there have been many recent developments in cancer treatments that make it possible for many to enter remission and regain their livelihood. It’s important to know how to handle the immediate emotions and create a plan to best equip everyone involved for the battle ahead.

Diagnosis
Ask your doctor as many questions as possible to settle concerns and inform your loved ones. Your doctor should provide documents about the specific type of cancer, but you’ll need to know the location in your body and if it has spread. Ask for the prognosis, chances for recovery, treatment options and how your doctor intends to tackle your condition. You’ll also need to know the side effects and whether you should speak with a specialist. Try not to go the appointment alone; you will need all the support you can find.

Emotions
Accept how you are feeling and allow yourself to grieve. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling weak or scared. These are natural emotions that will need to be properly handled so you can transition your focus onto fighting the cancer. Some cancer patients begin to feel depressed. Learn the symptoms and know when to ask for help.

Honesty
You may feel scared and overwhelmed by what you’re feeling, but you’ll need to be honest about your diagnosis with those you love. Explain the details and the road that lies ahead. Ask for their support and don’t feel as if you need to comfort them. Allow them to process their emotions, just as you did when you received the news. All of you will need to be strong together to expect a positive outcome.

Physical Changes
Your body and mind will go through some serious changes, from hair loss to extreme pain. Prepare your home for the change, with heating pads, moving a bed downstairs to avoid climbing, considering critical illness insurance and the like. Your home, finances and mental health will need to be prepared. Talk with your HR representative at work to see what support your can receive with time off, as well.

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