I Have Cancer: Now What Do I Do?

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When a diagnosis of cancer hits home, it may be hard to figure out how to keep your composure and what to expect. Follow these guidelines to learn the best ways to keep your chin up and move forward.

You go to the doctor, and something just isn’t right. She puts you through a series of nerve wracking tests, and after waiting what seems like an eternity, the results confirm your worst fears: You have cancer. Coping with the news is rough, and sometimes you simply don’t know what to do next; but stay informed and set a good plan for moving forward with your treatment. The following tips may help you move to the next step, without losing your grip.

Find a good doctor and get informed
After your initial diagnosis, you may need to see a specialist. Do some research to make sure you are seeing the right kind of doctor. Not all types of cancer require an oncologist, but if yours does, read reviews on the internet to find out who might be a good match for your needs. You may want to meet with a few doctors before you make your final decision.

When you find a doctor with whom you’re comfortable, ask her the right questions. Find out what kind of cancer you have, exactly where it is, and its likelihood of spreading. Research as much as you can about your cancer and the treatment options available to you. Ask what to expect during treatment, like side-effects, medications, and overall pros and cons. You may even want to determine if your cancer is genetic, and if your family is at risk of developing it, as well. Don’t be afraid to do your own research. Being informed is a crucial first first step in your battle with cancer.

Assess your financial needs
It is no surprise that cancer treatment can be costly. Call your insurance company or look through your policy documents to see what treatments and procedures are covered. Your doctor should be able to tell you if he accepts your insurance and should be able to give you insight into which options are covered within his office. Even federal or state insurance plans like Medicare and Medicaid will cover some of the costs. If you don’t have insurance or if you can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket expenses, call around. There are cancer clinics throughout the country that offer financial assistance and grants to help patients pay for treatment and medications. Don’t hesitate to consider fundraising if you can’t otherwise see how the numbers will add up. There are many websites, churches, and organizations, not to mention individuals within your community, who may be willing and able to help you raise money by sharing your story. You would be surprised how many people might be willing to help.

Keep your family and your friends in the know
Your family and friends will certainly help you throughout your journey. Be honest about your condition and allow them to help you and your family in the months ahead. It may be a good idea to bring someone with you to your appointments and to have someone help manage your medications and take care of you when you are feeling ill. Having personal support will help keep you on track with your treatment and recovery and will keep your support system dedicated and strong. Consider attending cancer support groups also. You can learn a lot about coping with the changes in your life by sharing your experiences with others who know what you are experiencing. Keep a tight support system around of people who will allow you to share your feelings, both the positive and negative. It’s important that to be able to talk candidly throughout the entire process.

Live a healthy lifestyle
One of the most overlooked aspects in a person’s battle with cancer is his/her diet. Make sure you are eating healthy. Your doctor will surely provide you with a list of foods to avoid, and which to consume more of. The levels of nutrients and hormones in your body will vary depending on the type of cancer and treatment, so being educated about the best diet for you is key. Also, be sure to get plenty of rest and to keep your energy levels at peak. The treatments and medications you will encounter will likely drain your body of its energy. Don’t be afraid to nap and to take it easy when you aren’t feeling well. One of the most effective ways to feel your best is through exercise, even when you aren’t feeling 100%. Regular exercise can aid in keeping your stress levels low and help you feel more emotionally centered. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly generally live longer. Exercise could have a significant impact upon your rate of survival.

Be prepared for the changes ahead
Obviously, life is going to change for a little while. You will have frequent doctors appointments, likely take medications that will make you feel off your game, and there’s a chance your normal activities may be disrupted greatly. Understand that remaining emotionally strong will be important to your success. Although you should still try to incorporate your normal activities into your daily life, there will be days you won’t feel like doing anything. There may even be days that you have to send someone else to run errands and to the grocery store. Just remember that after time, you will start feeling better. The side effects from medications and treatments will end when your treatment is over. While you are feeling bad, remember that it is only temporary, so don’t give up. Try to use your good days to go for a walk, go fishing at the lake, or visit with your family. Continue to go to work, even if you must limit your hours. Maintaining normalcy in your life will help you to stay upbeat and strong.

 

For more information about cancer, treatments, financial programs, and support, visit the American Cancer Society.

 

Written By: Jenna McClure
Source: Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: Melis82 at stockfreeimages.com

 

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