Cancer. Few other words have the ability to instill such a sense of immediate fear or fatalism.
If either you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with cancer, you may feel unprepared to cope with the news and unequipped to tackle the tough days that are undoubtedly ahead.
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. Here are seven tips that can help you navigate a cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
1. Get All of the Facts Straight
While an initial cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, it’s critical that you get all of the correct facts concerning your illness.
Take some time to discuss this with your doctor and be sure to get answers to any questions you might have.
Learning more about the specific type of cancer, its severity, its treatment options, and other information will help you determine the best course of action and prepare for treatment.
2. Seek Out the Right Expertise
When you’re first given a cancer diagnosis, you may have more questions than you can possibly ask your doctor in one sitting. Naturally, you may want to take to the internet for some answers.
Similar to our mainstream news media, the field of medicine has been infiltrated by no shortage of “fake news.” Frantically scouring the web for answers can often produce more bad than good.
Instead, it’s important to seek the right expertise and steer clear from sources that are going to equip you with all sorts of inaccurate information.
Of course, you can check in with your healthcare provider or specialist, but there are also vetted cancer-specific resources online that will provide you with accurate information that has been developed and curated by medical professionals.
3. Be Transparent With Those Around You
It can be tempting to put off communicating the bad news with your loved ones, perhaps because you want to avoid talking about the topic at all costs or because you don’t want your loved ones to worry.
However, it’s wise to be transparent and maintain open channels of communication with those who are within your support system. Throughout your cancer journey, you are going to need to lean on those who are close to you. Being upfront with them about your diagnosis is a good place to start.
You should also strongly consider making your employer aware of the situation. This will give them ample time to adapt and also support you throughout your treatment and recovery.
4. Anticipate Any Physical Changes
The three most common cancer treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. As you prepare to undergo treatment, it’s important that you anticipate changes to your body.
Not all scenarios are the same, so you’ll want to talk with your doctor about the potential changes that are specific to your situation. It may be that you suffer hair loss, low energy, or a host of other symptoms. Simply being aware of these changes before they occur can make them more manageable.
5. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
There is a clear connection between cancer and an unhealthy lifestyle. According to American Cancer Society researchers, it’s estimated that 16% of cancer deaths are related to poor diet, obesity, alcohol, or lack of physical activity.
Make a conscious effort to cut out unhealthy foods and substitute them with nutritious food choices.
Likewise, make sure you are getting ample sleep every night. Your body uses sleep to help your body recover, both mentally and physically, so that you’re better suited to tackle the challenges of the following day.
Finally, if you are able to continue being active during cancer treatment, a little exercise can go a long way.
6. Accept Help from Your Support System
Some people find it difficult to reach out or accept help from others. Even when struggling with something as serious as a cancer diagnosis, certain people feel as though they are inconveniencing others with their illness.
However, it’s important to lean into those who are closest to you, as there will be days when you might be struggling to get up in the morning or be productive.
What’s more, the average cost of cancer treatment hovers around the $150,000 range. While insurance may put a dent in these costs, there may also be people in your circle who want to help out financially.
7. Find a Sense of Routine
Both cancer and treatment are likely to come with some physical and mental changes that make maintaining your day-to-day routine a challenge.
There may be days when you want to do nothing, and that’s OK. But if you’re able to maintain a sense of routine while you undergo treatment and recovery, chances are that you’ll find some comfort in that normality.