Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis

So you’re sitting in your doctor’s office one day and he comes in wearing a long face and speaking calmly but seriously. He says a lot of things but you stopped listening as soon as you heard ‘cancer’. Merely hearing that word leaves you paralyzed and unable to process anything else. A cancer diagnosis is certainly terrifying and life-changing. However, it is important to confront it with the right attitude in order to overcome it. Here are some coping mechanisms that have worked for many. 

Gather information

A cancer diagnosis will, no doubt, be met with some shock and anxiety; but as soon as this initial wave subsides it will be necessary to take charge of the situation as much as you can and begin to find as much information as you can handle regarding your situation. Some prefer to know as little as possible, leaving it to the medical practitioners to guide them through the process. For others, knowing every detail serves as a form of reassurance and control. Whichever approach you might favor, obtaining the basic facts about your diagnosis ensures that you’ll have a say in any decision regarding your care. 

Focus on healthy living 

A cancer diagnosis is scary and depressing and can take the fight out of even the strongest people. It is not uncommon to see cancer patients letting go of it all, seeing any additional effort as medicine after death. Avoid falling into this trap by making a healthy lifestyle one of your top priorities. As most cancer treatments and the disease itself induces fatigue, the benefits of staying active cannot be overemphasized. Improve your diet, exercise, get abundant rest, and keep enjoying your hobbies. Studies have shown that cancer patients who stay active respond better to treatment than those who don’t. If you drink or smoke, reduce your alcohol intake to the barest minimum possible and find an alternative to smoking right away. 

Attend to your emotions

More often than not a diagnosis of cancer brings with it a tsunami of difficult emotions. You might feel angry, fearful, sad, and anxious all at once. Learning to manage these emotions is key to conquering the disease on a psychological level. The first thing is to accept all the emotions as normal and not be disturbed by them or feel guilty about them. This will make it easier for you to find ways of coping with the negative feelings. Keeping a journal, meditating, reading about other people’s experiences, and talking to your loved ones are all helpful methods but if the feelings continue to overwhelm it might be advisable to seek professional help.

While a diagnosis of cancer can temporarily put your life on pause, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end. Putting things in proper perspective goes a long way in determining your approach to such a momentous event. Above all, it’s important not just to remember that life goes on but to act accordingly.