How to Navigate a Cancer Diagnosis

October 12, 2021
How to Navigate a Cancer Diagnosis

Written by Allie Blackham

You’re at the doctor’s office, awaiting your test results. The doctor comes in and lowers his head to give you the news. You have cancer. Sound familiar? If you’re dealing with a new cancer diagnosis, you might feel overwhelmed, confused, fearful, and perhaps even a bit alone. These feelings are all completely normal and most people diagnosed with the disease have felt them at some point. We’ve put together a new cancer diagnosis support guide to help you navigate your diagnosis and know where to turn for help. 

Step 1: Get the Facts

You might feel like your head is spinning after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Take some time to breathe, think, and focus your thoughts. After you collect yourself, it’s important to get as much information as possible about the diagnosis. This information will help you make decisions about your care and learn more about how to proceed and what to expect. You probably won’t be able to think clearly enough to ask all your questions at the initial appointment, so take time to write down questions to take to your next appointment. Some questions you might want to ask include:

  • Where is the cancer located?
  • What stage is the cancer in (and what does that mean for my prognosis)?
  • Has the cancer spread?
  • What are the treatment options for this type of cancer?
  • Will I need any additional tests or procedures right away?
  • What are the side effects of the various treatment options?
  • What should I expect during treatment?
  • What necessitates contacting you (the doctor)?
  • Is this type of cancer hereditary? Should my children or other family members be concerned/get tested?
  • How likely is it that my cancer can be cured? 

The best and most trustworthy information is likely to come from your treating physician and care team. Although performing your own research online can be tempting after learning that you have cancer, doing so can bring up results that aren’t helpful or positive. 

Step 2: Seek Support

Building a network of people to provide support can make a major difference in your emotional and physical response to being diagnosed with cancer. As mentioned, feeling alone is common among people going through treatment. After a new cancer diagnosis, support can help lift you and keep you feeling positive, even when going through this challenging situation. Your friends and family members will likely be significant sources of support following a new cancer diagnosis. You might take a close friend or member of your family to your appointments to keep you company and provide physical support. When you identify your community, don’t forget to add them to your Village here, so they can have access to our articles and tools, in addition to your WishList.

Another way to add to your support network is to find people who have been through a similar situation. You can connect to people through social media who may have the same type of cancer or in our community forums. Even those who have other forms of cancer can often relate to what you’re going through. Finding people who you can talk to openly and share your experiences can be beneficial in your need for new cancer diagnosis support.

The staff in your doctor’s office may be able to refer you to groups that can provide new cancer diagnosis support. Many health clinics and hospitals host support groups for newly diagnosed cancer patients, as well as those undergoing treatment for various types of cancer.

Step 3: Take Care of Your Health

Caring for your health might seem like a challenge, especially after being diagnosed with cancer. However, your health is just as important now if not more so. Focus on what your body needs and try to accommodate those needs. Get at least seven hours of sleep per night to allow your body to rest and recover. Fuel your body with healthy food options, including lean protein sources, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and fresh fruits.

If you feel up to it, exercising regularly can also help you maintain your health during and after your treatment period. Exercise can reduce fatigue, help you build and maintain muscle strength, and reduce the risk of weight gain. Certain treatments for cancer can impact your ability to perform your everyday activities, so you might need to make some adjustments to accommodate for changes in energy levels or the way you feel during and after a treatment. Even simple actions like eating a healthy, home-cooked meal or taking a short walk can help you feel better and give your body what it needs to continue the fight.

Step 4: Care for Your Mental Health

Another aspect of your health that’s important to care for is your mental health. A new cancer diagnosis can cause feelings of anxiety and depression, so seek treatment for these conditions if you start to experience any warning signs. Stress is also a major contributor to your overall mental health and well-being. Take some time to reflect or meditate throughout the day. Try to look for small positive aspects in each day. 

Many people who have been diagnosed with cancer think constantly about the future and what it might hold for them, but be mindful and live in the moment whenever possible. Talking to those in your new cancer diagnosis support network can help you get some of your fears and feelings out, allowing you to think about other things.

Step 5: Think About Your Priorities and Goals

After being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening disease, you may start to view life a little differently. Take this time to consider your goals and priorities. Make time for what’s most important to you, whether that’s spending time with friends or rebuilding relationships with estranged family members. Share your feelings and thoughts with the new cancer diagnosis support group you’ve built around yourself. Openness and transparent communication can help reduce fear and anxiety while allowing you to focus on what matters most to you.

After a new cancer diagnosis, support is essential in getting through the situation. You don’t have to face this situation on your own. The people in your life want to help you, so let them take care of your needs by bringing in meals, driving you to appointments, and helping with household chores. By building a strong new cancer diagnosis support network, you can feel buoyed up throughout the early stages of your diagnosis and get through the difficulties that come with this diagnosis and the ensuing medical care and treatment.

Learn More About How to Navigate Your Cancer Diagnosis With OneVillage

Regardless of where you are in your cancer journey, OneVillage is here to help. OneVillage is dedicated to providing the support, information, goods, and services that cancer patients need. Whether you’re wondering how to navigate a cancer diagnosis or how to find a community of people like you, OneVillage is here. In addition to highly personalized recommendations and checklists to help you navigate your new normal, through our WishList feature we also allow supporters to contribute to a fund for  your medical trips and other expenses. If you have any further questions about what OneVillage offers and site features, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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