If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering, “What do I do now?” after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Here, we’ll guide you through the immediate steps you need to take, provide essential information on treatment options, and offer resources and support for what comes next. So take a deep breath and dive into what to do after receiving a cancer diagnosis.
1. Consult a Specialist
Before anything else, reach out to a cancer specialist (oncologist) who has experience in dealing with your specific type of cancer. They’ll work closely with you to craft a tailored treatment plan that provides the best possible outcomes. Remember, expertise matters when dealing with cancer, so getting a second opinion can also be invaluable.
2. Build Your Support System
Lean on your loved ones during this challenging time. Rally your friends, family, and even colleagues to offer practical assistance, emotional support, and motivation. You don’t have to go through this journey alone.
3. Manage Stress and Emotions
You probably feel a whirlwind of emotions, and developing healthy coping mechanisms is essential. A licensed mental health professional, such as a counselor or therapist, can help you address your emotional needs. Also, meditation, journaling, and exercise are a few activities that can help you manage stress and anxiety.
You might want to consider managing external stressors as well, such as transportation to and from your medical appointments. You can’t always drive after treatment, and your loved ones might not be able to take you back home. Instead, you could consider non-emergency medical transportation services (NEMT). NEMT services offer many benefits for cancer patients that can take some stress off their shoulders.
4. Understand Your Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Get to know the specifics of your cancer, including the type, stage, and possible treatments. Conduct thorough research and ask your medical team clarifying questions to understand how these factors will impact your treatment and prognosis. Develop a comprehensive plan with your oncologist that includes conventional therapies, such as chemotherapy and radiation, as well as complementary treatments, such as acupuncture or massage therapy.
5. Anticipate Lifestyle Changes
Prepare yourself both mentally and physically for changes in your day-to-day life. Consider discussing adjustments to your work schedule, dietary needs, and exercise routine with your health-care team. Remember to be patient with yourself during this process; it’s OK to take things one step at a time.
6. Find Comfort in Support Groups and Online Forums
Connecting with other people going through a similar journey can alleviate loneliness, fear, and uncertainty. Local support groups, cancer organizations, and online forums are excellent avenues for finding tips, resources, and comfort, so don’t be afraid to reach out.
7. Stay Positive
Lastly, hold onto hope. Cancer treatments have come a long way, and many people have inspirational stories of success against the disease. Your attitude can significantly impact your cancer journey, so try to stay hopeful and positive.
Remind yourself that you’re not alone on this journey. And with this guide, you can now better navigate what to do after receiving a cancer diagnosis.