Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A diagnosis of cancer can be extremely challenging. Remember that no matter what your concerns or prognosis, you're not alone. These strategies and resources may make dealing with cancer easier:

  • Know what to expect. Find out everything you can about your cancer — the type, stage, risks, your treatment options and their side effects. The more you know, the more active you can be in your care. In addition to talking with your doctor, look for information in your local library and on the Internet. The National Cancer Institute will answer questions over the phone at 800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237). Or contact the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 (800-227-2345). Information is also available on their websites.
  • Be proactive. Although you may feel tired and discouraged, try to be an active participant in your treatment decision-making.
  • Maintain a strong support system. Having a support system and a positive attitude can help you cope with any issues, pain and anxieties that might occur. Although friends and family can be your best allies, they sometimes may have trouble dealing with your illness. If so, the concern and understanding of a formal support group or others coping with cancer can be especially helpful. Although support groups aren't for everyone, they can be a good source for practical information for you and your family. You may also find you develop deep and lasting bonds with people who are going through the same things you are.
  • Set reasonable goals. Having goals helps you feel in control and can give you a sense of purpose. But don't choose goals you can't possibly reach. You may not be able to work a 40-hour week, for example, but you may be able to work at least part time. In fact, many people find that continuing to work during cancer treatment can be helpful.
  • Take time for yourself. Eating well, relaxing and getting enough rest can help combat the stress and fatigue of cancer. Also, plan ahead for the downtimes when you may need to rest more or limit what you do.
  • Stay active. Having cancer doesn't mean you have to stop doing the things you enjoy or normally do. For the most part, if you feel well enough to do something, go ahead and do it. It's important to stay involved as much as you can.
Aug. 16, 2011