Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be an extremely difficult and life-altering experience. Cancer is a disease caused by abnormal cell growth and has the potential to spread to other body parts if not caught early. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be approximately 1,958,310 new cancer cases, the equivalent of 5370 cases each day, diagnosed in the United States in 2023. Coping with this devastating news is crucial for both physical and mental health.
While everyone’s cancer journey is unique, there are some essential steps that can aid the coping process.
1. Learn All You Can About Your Diagnosis
When facing any cancer diagnosis, knowledge truly is power. Taking the time to fully educate yourself about your specific type of cancer enables you to understand your prognosis, treatment options, and the road ahead more clearly.
Being informed makes you better equipped to make decisions about your care and empowers you to take an active role in the process. Ask your oncologist detailed questions about the cancer, like: What type is it exactly? What stage? Has it spread? How will it be treated? What clinical trials are available? Be sure to write down the answers you receive. Understanding the specifics of your diagnosis reduces feelings of uncertainty and fear of the unknown.
The more facts you have about what you’re facing, the more in control you will feel. Knowledge also allows you to be an engaged partner with your medical team. Don’t be afraid to do your own research on reputable websites in addition to what you learn from your doctors. The more you know, the better.
2. Hire an Attorney Specializing in Your Type of Cancer
Receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma, especially from asbestos exposure, can be overwhelming. One of the first and most important steps is to hire a qualified attorney who specializes in this type of cancer. Firms like Sokolove Law have years of experience helping victims of asbestos-related cancers, ensuring they receive the financial compensation they deserve.
An experienced lawyer can advise you on all your legal options regarding financial compensation. This financial stability can relieve a huge burden when you need to focus on your treatment and recovery. An attorney can also fully handle communication with insurance companies, employers, and any other entities that may be responsible for asbestos exposure. They have the expertise to successfully identify all potential sources of exposure through detailed investigation. This spares you from getting bogged down in legalities during your health battle.
Perhaps most importantly, a knowledgeable mesothelioma attorney becomes your fierce advocate. They understand this disease and how to build the strongest case possible to get you maximum compensation. This provides support at a time when you need it most.
3. Find the Right Medical Team
Assembling the most effective medical team is absolutely vital to getting the best possible treatment and care. Your primary oncologist should specialize specifically in your type of cancer. Do thorough research to find the top doctor in your area, or seek referrals from trusted sources. Get a second opinion if you have any doubts.
You also need to find out if you require other cancer specialists like a surgeon, radiation oncologist, nutritionist, therapist, etc. Having complete trust and good rapport with your medical team provides great comfort and confidence during treatment.
Don’t be afraid to interview potential doctors to make sure your values and personalities mesh. Ask about their experience with your specific cancer. Building relationships where you feel heard and understood is so important. Your team becomes your most valuable resource, so take the time to find the right fit.
4. Lean on Your Support System
A strong support system is absolutely essential to coping with a cancer diagnosis. Don’t try to go through it alone. Turn to your inner circle – your family, closest friends, clergy, or others who make you feel loved. Accept help from these loved ones when you need it most. Whether it’s a ride to the hospital, meals, childcare, or just moral support, letting others provide assistance builds your strength reserves so you can focus on healing.
Joining a cancer support group also connects you with others facing similar challenges who uniquely understand what you’re going through. Bonding over shared experiences provides an incredible outlet. If certain relationships in your life feel toxic or unsupportive, you have every right to set boundaries or take space to protect your mental health. Surround yourself with positive people who lift you up. Your support network becomes your most valuable resource.
5. Adopt Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Living an optimally healthy lifestyle can greatly help you both physically and emotionally during cancer treatment. Make nutrition a priority, and eat a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Exercise regularly if possible; even light activity like walking helps. Look for ways to reduce stress through yoga, meditation, massage, or other relaxation techniques. Get enough quality sleep to recharge. Taking excellent care of your body keeps your strength, stamina, and spirits up during this difficult time. Staying active and exercising also helps combat the fatigue that often comes with cancer treatment.
Make sure to take time out for hobbies, interests, and fun activities you enjoy as a form of self-care. Things like reading, puzzles, crafting, or listening to music can lift your mood. Your health should be your number one priority.
6. Maintain a Positive but Realistic Attitude
Keeping a hopeful and optimistic mindset can provide great benefits during cancer healing and treatment. However, false optimism and minimizing the reality of your diagnosis won’t help in the long run. Try to find silver linings and focus on the positives while also acknowledging the seriousness of your cancer.
Stay focused on your treatment goals and visualize yourself in recovery, even on hard days. Avoid falling into negative thinking patterns like imagining worst-case scenarios or spiraling into fear. Instead, stay firmly grounded in the present moment.
Take things step by step. Counseling often provides helpful perspectives and coping strategies. A positive yet balanced and realistic attitude is key.
7. Make Work and Financial Adjustments
Cancer treatment can significantly impact your ability to work, depending on the intensity. Understand your rights under laws like FMLA and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and don’t be afraid to exercise them.
Have candid conversations with HR at your workplace about medical leave or remote work options. You must take the time needed to prioritize your health and thoroughly review your finances and medical bills, organizing everything. Also, look into resources like disability insurance, grants, drug discounts, and any employer policies that can help. Planning ahead reduces some of the financial stress.
A cancer diagnosis turns your world upside down. While an extremely difficult experience, taking proactive steps to educate and empower yourself, build your medical team, lean on your support network, take care of your health, adjust your work and finances, embrace your emotions, and maintain hope can provide the strength and resilience needed to cope with it. With each day, you can gain more understanding and move forward with your life.