It’s a fear we all have, but the reality is that some of us will be diagnosed with cancer. So, what do you do when you hear that you have cancer?
The first thing you need to know is that feeling overwhelmed by the diagnosis is normal. According to cancerchoices.org, being in a state of crisis is to be expected. “Once you’ve tended to your difficult emotions and physical distress, you’re in a better frame of mind to ask yourself: ‘What matters most to me now?”
“During this diagnosis phase, when you’re making treatment decisions, the answer to that question may be your best guide to how to live, what treatments to take, and perhaps equally important, what treatments not to take. This exploration is one of the 7 Healing Practices and a good place to start in caring for yourself,” says the website, which is dedicated to helping patients cope with their diagnosis.
The 7 Healing Practices include:
- Eat well
- Move more
- Share love and support
- Explore what matters now
- Manage stress
- Create a healing environment
- Sleep well
A plan of action
Having a lot of questions is normal and to be expected. This will also help you make the right decision for the treatment path you choose.
Some of the questions the Mayo Clinic recommends you ask include:
- What kind of cancer do I have?
- Where is the cancer?
- Has it spread?
- Can my cancer be treated?
- What is the chance that my cancer can be cured?
- What other tests or procedures do I need?
- What are my treatment options?
- How will the treatment benefit me?
- What can I expect during treatment?
- What are the side effects of the treatment?
- When should I call my healthcare provider?
- What can I do to prevent my cancer from coming back?
- How likely are my children or other family members to get cancer?
- What happens if I don’t get treatment?
Depending on what your physical state is at the time of diagnosis, there are lifestyle choices you can start making to assist you with your journey towards healing. The Mayo Clinic recommends the following:
- Choose a healthy diet.
- Get enough rest. This will help you manage the stress and fatigue of the cancer and its treatment.
- If you can, have a consistent daily routine. Make time each day for exercising, getting enough sleep and eating meals.
- Exercise and participating in activities that you can enjoy can also help. People who get exercise during treatment not only deal better with side effects but may also live longer.
Allow your loved ones to support you
Sometimes when we go through tough and traumatic situations, we want to isolate ourselves. This is not the time to do so. Let your friends and family support you during this time; not only will you need their help, but having people you can trust close by will enable you to share your thoughts and feelings.
We also recommend seeking a cancer support group in your region, so that you can have access to others who are having a similar experience to you. In addition, you’ll have access to experts who deal with people diagnosed with cancer.
If you are struggling to find resources in your area, visit the website of the African Cancer Foundation , who have online resources and stories of inspiration available.
Seeing a therapist or any other mental health professional can also help with managing your stress and anxiety during this time.