Health Living Well

After Your Cancer Diagnosis, What’s Next?

Cancer. It’s a frightening word for anyone, yet many of us will unfortunately receive this diagnosis in our lifetime. In 2015 alone, there were over 1,600,000 cases of cancer reported. This is an intimidating number, and you may wonder what to do if you become one of the people included in it.

Ask Questions

Find an oncologist that’s right for you, and ask him or her any questions you have. Key questions to ask after diagnosis include:

  • What kind of cancer is this?
  • Has it/will it spread, and to where?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the side effects?
  • Is the cancer hereditary? Should family members get tested?

Find a Support System

You’ll need to lean on friends and family more than ever. They can provide transportation, prepare meals, and help you with responsibilities. The people around you may offer advice or try to talk you out of your emotions. If this happens, say, “I appreciate what you’re saying, but I need you to just listen right now.” You’re entitled to feel what you feel at the moment.

Do What You Love

Try to maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible with particular focus on the things that bring you joy. Continue going to church and seeking support from clergy or church friends. If you love to read, go to a book club. If you play sports, join a game on days you feel strong.

Remain Hopeful

Many people see cancer as a death sentence, but thanks to modern medicine, many forms are more treatable and curable. Ask your oncologist what the survival rate for your cancer is and what you can do to increase your chances. Unless you’ve been told the cancer is terminal, don’t jump straight into making final plans. If at any point you must do this, seek support from family, clergy, doctors, and others.

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