A cancer diagnosis often comes with many emotions and feelings – surprise, shock, anger, fear, sadness, hopelessness, and others. While you are processing these emotions, your doctor is likely giving you information on your diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, services available to you, and next steps.
Many patients report their initial meeting a complete blur and the only word they heard was ‘cancer’. Studies show that many cancer patients don’t fully understand their prognosis, type of cancer or the kinds of treatment(s) available to them. In many cases the patient is too overwhelmed with all of the information and they are unable to fully grasp their disease.
There are many ways to help someone get focused and really understand their unique cancer. Here are 5 tips to help keep your mind from overloading and gaining focus on how:
- Do not rely solely on the internet for information. The internet is a great resource for research, however, there is so much out information there, how are you to know what is accurate and what is not? Some stories and articles will scare the bejeezus out of you! Someone that is newly diagnosed will already have a lot of information to decipher. Recognizing inaccurate and misleading information can take up a lot of quality time that could have been better spent elsewhere. Focus on collecting the information from your doctor(s) and really understand your diagnosis from them first to better assist your research efforts.
- Create your support system. You need to surround yourself with supportive people and designate a specific caregiver. Let this person be a part of all your meetings with the doctor(s). She or He can be another set of ears, someone to take notes for you and ask questions you may not be thinking of. This not only gives you the opportunity to just absorb the information but it also provides you with an advocate to walk with you through your journey.
- Ask questions! There is that old saying ‘No question is a dumb question’ and it is absolutely true, especially when you are dealing with uncharted waters. Be confident in asking your doctor(s) anything. They went to medical school for 12+ years. You may have just found out about your diagnosis that day or days/weeks ago. They understand that. If they say something you don’t understand, be sure to stop them and ask them to explain it in a way you will. It is safe to say that most doctors really are there to help you. The better educated you are about your diagnosis, the less fear you might have.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Keeping a healthy diet will not only keep your immune system sound it will also help reduce your fatigue and stress. 65-70% of cancer patients are malnourished. This can make you weak, tired, unable to concentrate, prone to more illnesses, or not fit for treatment. Talk to your doctor about what will be the appropriate diet for you to keep yourself physically and mentally strong.
- Join a support group. Having a support system is so important when you are diagnosed with cancer. Having someone who has experienced what you are about to go through gives you the assurance that you are not alone. Joining a support group can give you an opportunity to share your fears with others who are or have experienced a similar illness. It can give you the additional support to help you cope, get advice, share your feelings with those that likely are experiencing everything that you are. To find out a local support group near you visit:
If you know of someone in need of cancer treatment please forward our article on to them. We are partnered with excellent cancer treatment centers throughout the US that can help you navigate your journey.