A cancer diagnosis often takes a hefty emotional toll. Many individuals report experiencing anxiety, depression, and other significant mental health side effects when they learn their well-being is at risk.
If you’re facing cancer, consider the following suggestions for mitigating the emotional impact a diagnosis often brings.
Find A Community
You are not alone, and surrounding yourself with a group of like-minded people who have also experienced serious health issues can be beneficial. When you are ready to discuss your illness, you should. Patients who have more social support report experiencing less anxiety and depression. The American Cancer Society offers the Cancer Survivors Network, and this site hosts its own forum so that people can dialogue about diagnoses and treatment plans.
Communication Is Key
Maintaining open communication with your loved ones is essential. They will be your support system, after all, and keeping them updated with your health allows them to provide consistent encouragement, insight, and perspective.
It can be helpful, too, to designate a point-person. Select one family member or friend to be your champion. This person will attend appointments, ask questions, and help research about your illness and treatment options. Because patients are often overwhelmed, allowing someone else to decipher your diagnosis and find answers can be particularly useful.
Clear and thorough communication with your cancer care team is especially crucial. Seek out doctors who take the time to answer your questions and fully explain your illness and options. Doctors who work with cancer patients should be well versed in listening and offering in-depth responses to any concerns you might have. You should never feel rushed through your appointments or as though you weren’t fully heard.
Know Your Options
Every cancer is unique, so you should never feel as though your care team is proposing a one-size-fits-all treatment plan. Ask your doctor to discuss the full range of medical choices available to you. Many doctors, especially at international cancer clinics, specialize in conventional interventions (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy) but also offer synergistic therapy plans that incorporate a wide variety of less-invasive, gentler, holistic therapies.
Ask the Right Questions
A cancer diagnosis is all about your body and your health, so it’s essential that you understand your diagnosis. We consider you ask questions pertaining to the following:
- How far your cancer has advanced
- What lifestyle changes can be made
- How and why a specific therapy plan has been proposed
- Therapy types and their success rates
- The possibility or merits of participating in clinical trials
- The role of alternative and holistic therapies
Get A Second Opinion
There’s no harm in double-checking the information you’ve received. Having a different medical team analyze your test results and suggest another treatment plan can be very helpful. Patients who pursue multiple opinions often cultivate a course of therapy that is more effective and carries fewer side effects. The treatment plan you choose will be one of the biggest decisions of your life. Take your time, ask around, and be sure you’re selecting the wisest approach for your overall health.
Maintain Your Emotional Health
A cancer diagnosis can be dizzying, and the ramifications can be huge. Cultivate a medical team and personal support system that will help you understand your diagnosis and design the best treatment plan for your unique illness. As you learn more about your cancer and your treatment choices, your emotions will likely continue to evolve. Only you will know when you’re ready to discuss your health and with whom you’ll want to share. But when you’re ready, reaching out–to either loved ones or an anonymous support group–can do much to relieve the heavy emotional tax a diagnosis can carry.