Discovering you have cancer can trigger many emotions, including fear and confusion. As you begin to navigate the complexities of cancer, connecting with other people in the same situation can be extremely helpful. WhatNext.com is a great resource to met other people in your exact shoes. I love the advice they gathered in their blog post “21 Tips for the Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patient- from Survivors” which I’ve re-posted below.
Once you or a loved one are faced with a cancer diagnosis, you have so many questions, fears and concerns. How am I going to get through this? Where do I begin? It’s scary and not easy. We’ve turned to our WhatNexters (people who have joined the What Next community) and asked them what advice they would give to someone who is newly diagnosed with cancer and needs support. They’ve been through it, hopefully their words of wisdom can help.
1. Assemble your team. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a team to beat cancer. Once you accept you have cancer and have a journey in front of you, it’s time to assemble your team. The team isn’t just doctors and nurses, but also family and friends, and even strangers. There are so many aspects of the journey ahead that you can never prepare for. Accepting help and gathering a support system is critical. It also helps to know you are not alone in the journey. — CarolLHRN
2. Know who you can let your guard down with. Emotional health is so important and often ignored by many providers. Make sure you have someone to talk with and don’t be afraid of all the emotions you will experience from fear and sadness to laughter and joy and everything in between. To have the strength to move through the journey, your mind has to be strong too. — CarolLHRN
3. Be selfish. Be very selfish, you need to put yourself first. Put together a laundry list of things that need to get done now and tell a friend. It is perfectly OK to do so. Then, let go all the negative thoughts, acts and things. — cranburymom
4. Take control. This is your life and you control what is done to you. Ask questions. challenge answers, and research what you are told. Second and third opinions are good choices. Keep your family close, thank well-wishers, trust in God, and deal with the emotions as they come along. — emtp12
5. Give yourself a break. So what if your house isn’t perfect, the cupboard is bare, or you don’t have clean underwear, you can worry about all of that later. Don’t be afraid to accept help, if people don’t really want to help they shouldn’t offer, I personally didn’t go to Wal-Mart for months and my husband and I survived, so what if he bought the wrong brand of toilet paper. Also, it is ok to freak out, it is ok to be scared, and it is ok to be angry. You also have to do everything you can to make educated decisions and do what is right for you. Don’t second guess yourself. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. — grams2jc
6. You are alive – live! Remember that you are still alive and your family needs you. Be selfish with your energy level and with doing things that are not totally necessary, but hoard what you do have to make time for your close friends and family. It’s so easy to fall into depression and to be overwhelmed, but right now you are still here and you need to treasure that time! — danellsar
7. Take care of yourself, and that means crying, too. Allow yourself to freak out and cry once in a while. But give yourself a certain time of day to do it. Allow it to own a place in your life, give it it’s own freedom and then put it away and focus on your goals. Take care of your body – eat well, get the rest you need when you need and by all means rely on the kindness of others. No one knows what to do with you. They try to help and sometimes it seems overwhelming but the relief you experience by just saying “yes” even if it’s not in your nature and just allowing and letting go of it all. Sharing it with others is a way of healing. You need to get the disease out of your body. — kimjx6
8. Have a positive attitude. Realize you are not alone. There are many of us in the same boat. Cancer does suck but in most cases it is definitely beatable-so gear up for a fight and keep positive. Push the worries aside and focus on each day as a gift, smell some roses, then just keep living your life. Life gets back to semi-normal–but you do change. Some good, some not so good. So watch the poor me syndrome, and finish the race. –indyeastside
9. Be ready for anything. I am losing my sight and at times my will. I am not a weak person but I do cry. It makes me feel better to get that stuff out even if the hurt feelings and worrying thoughts will come back. — flyglo
10. Surround yourself with others who support you. If there aren’t any, go find some. You play a huge part in your healing. Tell yourself you’re going to be ok until you believe it. I dealt with losing my hair by praying, so when it was time to cut it, I was ok and I didn’t cry. This should change your life for the better! It should change your perspective on life and make you realize what’s really important. Only look at the positives. — RebeccaLynn25
11. For Nausea – I took Zofran and also bought queasy pops…. nausea was very minimal….you can get the queasy pops online….also the center will provide snacks and juice but I usually brought my own that I knew I could tolerate and a good movie on my iPad…it is not as bad as you think.. – rdy2trvl
12. How to control the fear of recurrence – The fear never goes away completely, but you learn to manage how you let or NOT let if affect your life. I took up running in my late 40’s … doesn’t work for everyone but it does for me … find a hobby or project … keeping your mind busy and off your troubles goes a long way. – BELLA2013
13. Never give up HOPE – Never give up hope…it is the last candle fluttering in the darkness while all the others have gone out. – Russ
14. Set up Google Alerts – Set up a Google search for your type of cancer and use different ways to title each item..this will give you new and published information on your type of cancer..and never ever take medical advice from people on blogs.- CAS1
15. Get a second opinion – Seek out a specialist who treats your specific type of cancer, and consider getting a second opinion before treatments start. – Lynne-I-Am
16. Try to control worry – Use your energy to handle what is now, waste none of it on worry about what might be coming up next. – laradactyl
17. Keep moving and doing the things you love to do – If there’s something you really, really want to do and you have the energy, go for it. It will pick you up unbelievably and lift your spirits to the sky. For me, it was getting on a horse in the middle of radiation after not being on for over 3 years. The whole world turned around in such a positive way at that point. – Jesse0218
18. Be your own advocate – This is the time you have to become your own advocate, if you question your doctors..seek second opinion, ask questions if you don’t understand what they’re telling you, bring a friend/family member to appointments so they can write stuff down, your going to get overwhelmed by everything. It’s your body and you
and only you know what doesn’t feel right, tell them ( doctors) and keep repeating it if you have to, until someone listens. – diaturtles
19. Learn about your type of cancer – Knowledge is power. Power over fear. Find out as much about your cancer as you can and there will be less to fear. – Dan7264
20. Keep a detailed calendar. – Get a calendar and write all your medical stuff in it. All radiation and chemo dates, doctor appointments, surgeries. One calendar for every year. Keep everything pertaining to your newly diagnosed cancer in this calendar, even your scripts for medication and tests (CT scan, MRIs, Bone Density, MUGA, etc. I have 6 calendars since the beginning of January 2009. I refer back to them – – they might be better record keepers than your physician or oncologist. – jene1835
21. Follow your Doctor’s orders, take your meds – Once you’ve found the right doctor and decided on your course of treatment take your meds, especially those for nausea and pain. If you are stronger and not in pain your fight will be a little easier. Prayers. – Maddy61
Do you have any suggestions? Please comment below or join the conversation on WhatNext.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, take a minute to join the WhatNext community and find others near you who have been in your shoes. There’s no better way to get first-hand insights into living with cancer than by connecting with others who are currently doing just that.