Cancer comes in different shapes, sizes and levels of severity, but one thing is for certain—it can change a life forever.
An estimated 1.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in America each year. It’s important for anyone with cancer to adopt certain skills and habits to help them cope with the condition throughout every stage of the battle.
Stage 1: The Diagnosis
At this point you’ve seen the screens, received a second opinion and the diagnosis still remains the same: cancer positive.
- Learn what you can. It can be an overwhelming conversation, but ask your doctor any and all questions that you may have about your diagnosis and treatment options. Do some research on your own. Many people find that learning about their condition gives them a sense of control over the situation.
- Take a little time for yourself. While you don’t want to delve into this battle alone, it may be helpful to take a few moments to gather your thoughts, grieve and meditate on the diagnosis.
- Express your feelings. Once you’ve had time to reflect on how you feel, share your feelings with those you care about. If you feel as though no one can truly understand, join a cancer support group in your area.
Stage 2: Fighting Cancer
Treatment has begun, and now it’s time for you to battle through your cancer diagnosis.
- Take care of yourself. Try to make time each day to do something you enjoy. If you’re doctor says it’s okay, try getting in some exercise. Hobbies and exercise can help you get your mind off the condition—even if it’s just for a moment.
- Make the most of what you can control. With cancer, there are a lot of factors and outcomes that are out of your control. For example, you can’t help if you get sick after chemotherapy treatments. However, you can control things like your attitude. Staying positive is recommended by the American Cancer Society as a way to improve your quality of life during your battle with cancer.
Stage 3: Life After Cancer
After a long and hard fight, you’re fortunate enough to be classified as a “cancer survivor,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean your life goes back to how it was before.
- Keep in touch. When you’re battling cancer you’ll probably get a lot of attention whether you want it or not. However, once you’ve beat cancer, this attention may come to a sudden end. Unfortunately, cancer can be a traumatic experience that stays with the survivor. You may be worried about the cancer coming back or dwelling on the “what if.” Keeping in touch with support group members or the medical staff can help you handle this feeling of isolation.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, Palliative care may be able to improve quality of life for both you and your family. A team of doctors, nurses, chaplains and other healthcare specialists work together with the patient’s primary care provider to implement an extra layer of support through care coordination.
The palliative care team can provide relief from symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, fatigue constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. The team will help you better understand your disease and diagnosis. They are there to help clarify your treatment goals and options, support your ability to cope with your illness and assist you with making medical decisions.
If you are interested in joining the Palliative Care program, talk to your primary care provider or call 606-789-8749.