It’s some of the worst news you’ll ever hear, and nobody wants to believe it could happen to them. But someday, you or a loved one may be diagnosed with cancer. In the wake of this revelation, you’ll probably feel a plethora of emotions, including fear, confusion, and uncertainty, and you may not know what to do next.
The process is different for everyone, but there are some important steps to take both for your physical health and your mental wellbeing.
Find and Build Your Support System
First, try to identify and build a social support system for yourself. Nobody should go through this alone. You may be reluctant to inform your family members, especially if there’s any degree of uncertainty in the diagnosis, but it’s typically better to be upfront and honest. If you have a spouse or partner, tell them about your diagnosis, and ask them to come to your future appointments. If you don’t, you may be able to get help from a close friend, neighbor, or coworker.
Establish an Organization System
After a cancer diagnosis, you’ll probably be meeting with lots of specialists, attending many appointments, and generally dealing with lots of paperwork. You’ll need some kind of system to stay organized. Consider getting a binder together, and stocking it with everything you’ve learned or received thus far. It’s much easier to stay organized if you start it from the beginning.
Get a Second Opinion
Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. Cancer is a tricky disease to diagnose, so it’s often helpful to get a second set of eyes on your physical condition. You may find that another doctor believes your cancer isn’t as serious as the first, or that they recommend a completely different type of therapy. If your first two opinions seem to contradict each other, you may even need to seek a third.
Talk to a Lawyer
Some types of cancer are attributable to harmful environmental conditions, carcinogenic ingredients, or other circumstances that are the result of another person’s or organization’s negligence. For example, it’s been recently revealed that ingredients in Zantac may be responsible for an increased risk of stomach, bladder, and other types of cancer. If you believe your cancer may be the result of someone else’s negligence, make sure you talk to a lawyer, as you could be entitled to medical and personal compensation. Lawyers often invest heavily in SEO so they rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs), so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one who specializes in your target area.
Work to Understand Your Condition
Talk to all your doctors about the nature of your condition, and do your own research independently; if you do, make sure you rely exclusively on trustworthy sources. The more you understand how this cancer works and statistics like its survival rate, the more comfortable you’ll feel—and the more informed you’ll be when making decisions in the future.
Understand the Options
Different types and stages of cancer will require different types of treatment. It pays to know what these treatments are and how they work:
- Minor or major operations can sometimes remove the majority of cancerous cells.
- Chemotherapy relies on a full-body, anti-cancerous medication, given across several sessions.
- Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses targeted, high-energy beams to kill cancer cells.
- Immunotherapy relies on products of the immune system as a kind of medicine to kill cancer cells.
Oftentimes, doctors will use a combination of these methods.
Finally, you’ll need to psychologically adapt to your new circumstances. These steps can help:
- Keep a routine. Try to keep your routine as consistent as possible. It can provide you with a sense of comfort and familiarity during this trying process.
- If you feel able, try to get in some physical exercise. It will reduce your stress, keep you healthy, and increase your positive disposition.
- Stay positive. It may be hard, but try to stay as positive as possible. Instead of dwelling on the potential ways your life will be uprooted, focus on the support you’re getting. Instead of focusing on the worst-case scenarios, focus on survival rates and success rates. The more positive you are, the higher your success chances will be.
- Rely on others. Don’t try to do too much on your own. Rely on other people, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Just talking to people and spending time with them can make you feel better.
- Talk to a therapist. If you find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to talk to a professional therapist. This is a significant and complicated issue, psychologically, but a professional will be able to provide you with more advice and assistance.
Going through cancer treatment and living with your diagnosis is never easy, but it can become easier with these steps. Try to remain positive and patient at every step of the process, and take things one day at a time.