Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Everyone deals with a cancer diagnosis in his or her own way. You might experience shock and fear after your diagnosis. Allow yourself time to grieve.

A cancer diagnosis can make you feel as if you have little control, so take steps to empower yourself and control what you can about your health. Try to:

  • Learn enough to feel confident making decisions. Write down questions and ask them at the next appointment with your doctor. Get a friend or family member to come to appointments with you to take notes.

    Ask your health care team for further sources of information. Gather enough information so that you feel confident in making decisions about your treatment.

    Contact the National Cancer Institute for information online or by telephone at 800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237). The American Cancer Society also offers support and information on its website and by telephone at 800-227-2345.

  • Find someone to talk to. You may find it helps to have someone to talk to about your emotions. This may be a close friend or family member who is a good listener.

    Other people who may provide support include social workers and psychologists — ask your doctor for a referral. Talk with your pastor, rabbi or other spiritual leader.

    Other people with cancer can offer a unique perspective, so consider joining a support group — whether it's in your community or online. Contact the American Cancer Society for more information on support groups.

  • Take time for yourself when you need it. Let people know when you want to be alone. Quiet time to think or write in a journal can help you sort out all the emotions you're feeling.
  • Take care of yourself. Prepare yourself for treatment by making healthy lifestyle choices. For instance, if you smoke, quit smoking.

    Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Get exercise when you feel up to it, but check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

    Try to get enough sleep so that you wake feeling refreshed. Talk to your doctor if you're having trouble sleeping. Try to control stress by prioritizing what's important to you.

    These healthy choices can make it easier for your body to cope with the side effects of treatment.

Aug. 27, 2015