Review your goals and priorities
Determine what's really important in your life. Find time for the activities that are most important to you and give you the most meaning.
If needed, try to find a new openness with loved ones. Share your thoughts and feelings with them. Cancer affects all of your relationships. Communication can help reduce the anxiety and fear that cancer can cause.
Try to maintain your normal lifestyle
Maintain your normal lifestyle, but be open to modifying it as necessary. Take one day at a time. It's easy to overlook this simple strategy during stressful times. When the future is uncertain, organizing and planning may suddenly seem overwhelming.
Consider how your diagnosis will impact your finances
Many unexpected financial burdens can arise as a result of a cancer diagnosis. Your treatment may require time away from work or an extended time away from home. Consider the additional costs of medications, medical devices, traveling for treatment and parking fees at the hospital.
Many clinics and hospitals keep lists of resources to help you financially during and after your cancer treatment. Talk with your health care team about your options.
Questions to ask include:
- Will I have to take time away from work?
- Will my friends and family need to take time away from work to be with me?
- Will my insurance pay for these treatments?
- Will my insurance cover the cost of medications?
- How much will my out-of-pocket costs be?
- If insurance won't pay for my treatment, are there assistance programs that can help?
- Do I qualify for disability benefits?
- How does my diagnosis affect my life insurance?
Talk to other people with cancer
Sometimes it will feel as if people who haven't experienced a cancer diagnosis can't fully understand how you're feeling. It may help to talk to people who have been in your situation. Other cancer survivors can share their experiences and give you insight into what you can expect during treatment.
You may have a friend or family member who has had cancer. Or you can connect with other cancer survivors through support groups. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area or contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society. Online message boards also bring cancer survivors together. Start with the American Cancer Society's Cancer Survivors Network.
Some old stigmas associated with cancer still exist. Your friends may wonder if your cancer is contagious. Co-workers may doubt you're healthy enough to do your job, and some may withdraw for fear of saying the wrong thing. Many people will have questions and concerns.
Determine how you'll deal with others' behaviors toward you. By and large, others will take their cues from you. Remind friends that even if cancer has been a frightening part of your life, it shouldn't make them afraid to be around you.
Develop your own coping strategy
Just as each person's cancer treatment is individualized, so is the coping strategy. Ideas to try:
- Practice relaxation techniques.
- Share your feelings honestly with family, friends, a spiritual adviser or a counselor.
- Keep a journal to help organize your thoughts.
- When faced with a difficult decision, list the pros and cons for each choice.
- Find a source of spiritual support.
- Set aside time to be alone.
- Remain involved with work and leisure activities as much as you can.
What comforted you through rough times before your cancer diagnosis is likely to help ease your worries now, whether that's a close friend, religious leader or a favorite activity that recharges you. Turn to these comforts now, but also be open to trying new coping strategies.
Sept. 07, 2017
- Taking time: Support for people with cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime. Accessed Aug. 22, 2017.
- Rock CL, et al. Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2012;62:242.
- Ballard-Barbash R, et al. Physical activity, biomarkers and disease outcomes in cancer survivors: A systematic review. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2012;104:815.
- Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 22, 2017.