Coping After a Cancer Diagnosis

A cancer diagnosis is scary for the one receiving it and for the people who love them. Recently, we went over how stress can affect your cancer. Now, we want to go a step further and explore some methods of coping with cancer and the stress that can come with it.

Before coping with cancer, it’s important you’ve received proper screenings and diagnostic tests to confirm the cancer. The HealthyWoman Program may be able to help you receive breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic tests at no cost. Learn more.

Get Answers

For many patients, having all the information in front of them allows them to better face their diagnosis and weigh their treatment options. Gather information. Ask your doctor about your cancer, what kind it is and at what stage. Ask about your options, their rate of effectiveness and their side effects. Research other sources than your doctor, such as the National Cancer Society’s or the CDC’s website.

Know Your Limitations

Along with medical information, it is important to understand and accept what you can and cannot control. Knowing and accepting your own limitations can be overwhelming. You may be used to living a very independent lifestyle, or being a primary caregiver to someone else. While you should attempt to maintain your normal lifestyle, it may become more difficult as your treatment progresses.

Find an Outlet

Emotional changes often occur alongside any physical changes during cancer treatment. You may need an outlet for the frustration, depression and anxiety that are common. Outlets can include hobbies, activities or planning a future event or trip. Planning a trip can help you be optimistic about the future.

Find Emotional Support & Speak Honestly

Another outlet for coping with cancer is a support system of friends, relatives, neighbors or other cancer survivors and patients. Find or build a support system around you. You may be tempted to keep your feelings to yourself to protect your loved ones, or the thought of opening up to someone else may frighten you. Just remember that this is your cancer: You decided when and with whom to discuss it. However, honest conversations with others about your diagnosis, your treatments and your feelings can alleviate stress and better equip you and your loved ones to face your condition. Groups, such as the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, can be incredibly helpful during this time.

Practice Self-Care

If you are someone used to caring for others more than yourself, taking some time for self-care may leave you feeling guilty, but remember that you can only take care of others if you are taking care of yourself. Treat yourself from time to time and ask for help when you need it.

Journaling your experience is a simple way to carve out some time for yourself. Your journey can also help you to speak to your doctor about the changes, symptoms and side effects that you encounter, as well as express your concerns clearly to your doctor and to your loved ones.

Exercise can be another method of self-care during treatment and recovery. Discuss with your doctor about what kinds of physical activity are right for you and your condition.

Worried about how to cope after a cancer diagnosis?

First, make sure you’ve received proper screenings and diagnostic tests to confirm cancer. If you’re worried about how to afford these tests, we may be able to help you. Find out if you may be eligible for The HealthyWoman Program, which provides financial assistance to women in Pennsylvania for breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic tests. See if you qualify now!