A cancer diagnosis can be challenging in many ways. The news can be shocking, and it can be hard to process a lot of information when your emotions are running high. It is not unusual to feel confused and overwhelmed. Here are some tips that have helped other patients to get through the next steps.
• Write it down. Dedicate a special notebook to take to all of your physician appointments. You’ll be taking in a lot of information at once, and it will help to have the notes later when trying to share details with family members or other physician offices. You’ll also want to have your calendar or datebook with you for making appointments.
• Make notes at home, too. You’ll think of questions at the oddest times – in the kitchen, in the shower, late at night. Write these down in your notebook, and also record side effects or symptoms that you want to discuss with your doctor.
• Take someone with you, if possible. It can help to have a friend or family member with you at your appointments, especially when you are first starting treatment. They might hear things you don’t catch, or think of a question that hasn’t occurred to you yet.
• Don’t be afraid to ask – and ask again. Your physician and other healthcare providers want to be sure that your questions are answered thoroughly. You are not expected to understand technical medical terms or to remember everything the first time around. Ask questions, and if you don’t understand or don’t remember the answer, ask again.
• There is lots of good information out there – and some not so good. Learning more about your condition can be helpful, but remember that not everything you read, especially on the internet, is factual. Ask your doctor for recommendations on the best resources. Also, keep in mind that even the most credible websites provide very general information that may not be specific to your unique case. Don’t panic if you see something that concerns you – instead, make a note to ask your doctor about it.
• Tell someone. It’s understandable to want to keep your health status private, but don’t close yourself off from those who truly care. The support of family and friends can have a tremendous impact on your overall health.
• Put yourself first. Take the very best care of yourself that you can. Eat nutritious meals, exercise (with your doctor’s permission), and try your best to get a good night’s sleep. Feel free to say “no” to tasks or obligations that cause excess stress. Focus on the things that you can control, and let go of the things you can’t.
• Accept help. Friends and family members will ask if they can do anything to help you. Even if you are the type of person who never leans on others, your number one priority needs to be caring for yourself right now. If that means accepting a ride to an appointment, or a little help around the house, consider it. Maybe you’ll be able to return the favor someday.
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is never easy, but we are here to help you get through it. Contact us with questions or any time we can be of service.