Summary: Accepting cancer can be a difficult task, aside from the fight and battle against it. The faster you can acknowledge and accept it, the faster you can heal and continue with your life. Here you can learn the top ways to help accept your cancer and treatment, and continue with your everyday routines.
Getting the news that you have cancer can be a very challenging experience. After your cancer diagnosis, you might feel emotions and feelings that are not typical to your normal self. Anxiety, fear and overwhelmed feelings may be present, and you might be wondering how you will cope with or accept the new life in front of you. Here are some of the top suggestions on how you can learn to accept your cancer and begin your journey to whole healing.
Understand the Facts about your Cancer Diagnosis
Educating yourself about all aspects of your specific type of cancer and obtaining as much information as you can will arm you with facts and confidence to fight. This will also help you to make important decisions about your treatment plan and medical care. Consider taking these questions, or writing down your own, to your doctor’s appointments. Ask this of your doctors, oncologists, surgeons and medical care teams:
- What kind of cancer do I have?
- Where is the cancer?
- Has it spread?
- Can my cancer be treated?
- What is the chance that my cancer can be cured?
- What other tests or procedures do I need?
- What are my treatment options?
- How will the treatment benefit me?
- What can I expect during treatment?
- What are the side effects of the treatment?
- When should I call the doctor?
- What can I do to prevent my cancer from recurring?
- How likely are my children or other family members to get cancer?
If you are able, consider taking your caregiver, family member or friend along with you to help you navigate through the many medical terms, take notes, and help you to remember all of the important parts of your visits.
All of that said, if you are a person who only needs to know the basics and prefer to leave the mass of details out of the picture, that is normal, too. You can depend on your doctors and medical care team to keep you informed on the best treatments for your case.
Learn how to Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Remember that communication is a two-way street, and you must carry your weight by speaking up when you have needs, likes, or dislikes. This also applies to your doctor-patient relationship during your journey. You may feel isolated if people try to protect you from bad news or if you try to put up a tough front. Being open and honest about all aspects of your cancer can help everyone to feel stronger by gaining strength from each other.
Anticipate Physical Changes
After your initial diagnosis, but before treatment begins, is the best time to plan for any upcoming changes. The more you prepare yourself before these things pop in, the better. Talk with your doctor about the changes you might anticipate. If certain treatments and drugs might cause hair loss, advice from a clothing, makeup and hairpiece store may be beneficial for you. Insurance may help pay for some of these services. To find out, simply call your insurance company or stop into your local cancer center for more assisted guidance.
You might find that cancer support groups may be particularly helpful with things like this and can give you some of the best tips and advice for your journey. Consider how your treatment will impact your daily activities and ask if you can expect to continue your “normal” routine. If you will need to spend a lot of time in the hospital or have specialized, frequent medical care, or need to take a leave of absence from work, they will be able to help you plan and make arrangements.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
By living a healthy, responsible lifestyle you can improve your energy levels, which will help to keep your body in tip top shape. Choose a healthy diet full of a rainbow of colors of vegetables and fruits and get enough rest each and every day. This will help you to work through the rough spots and manage the stress and fatigue of your cancer treatment. Find a hobby or exercise program you like to help get you up and moving around.
Allow Others to Help
In most situations, you can enlist your friends and family to help out occasionally with your errands, transportation needs, meal prep and helping you with your household chores. It may be hard to accept the help and not feel odd about it, but you will learn how to easily accept it after a while. Everyone who is dealing with your cancer journey should accept help whenever they need it. Cancer takes a toll on everyone in different ways, and it is good to have friends to fall back on. This helps to avoid caregiver burnout.
Review your Life Priorities and Goals
Stop and think. Determine what is really important in your life, and what takes precedence over all else. Find time to do those things and make those memories that are the most important to you whenever you are able.
Keep your Normal Lifestyle in your Sights
Maintain your normal lifestyle as long as you can, but do not push yourself and pretend that you can keep going, when you cannot. When you need to, begin by modifying tasks and jobs as necessary to fit what you can handle. Take one day at a time. It is easy to get lost in thoughts and worry when the future is uncertain, organizing and planning can be a saving grace.
Think of how your Diagnosis will Impact your Finances
Along with the fight of a lifetime against cancer, you will also accrue some financial debts. Your treatment may require that you take time from your job or place of employment or spend extended amounts of time away from home. Consider the additional costs of medications and holistic options, medical devices, traveling for treatments, parking fees and hotel costs. Many offices and hospitals keep lists of special resources that cancer patients have access to. Talk with your medical care team about your options. Some of these questions to ask are:
- 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?
Connect with Other Cancer Patients
While it may feel like people who have not stood up against cancer just cannot fully understand how you are feeling, there is a larger, growing group of other cancer patients who know exactly what you are going through. Better yet, many of them regularly reach out to connect with others and share stories. Other people’s experiences not only provide insight but can also tip you off to new of different methods for treatment, pain relief and natural healing methods. You can join these groups by visiting local support groups that your doctor can give you the information for, or you can begin by finding an online support group to get your feet wet.
Combat against the Stigmas
Even though our medical technology and advancements in cancer have improved vastly, there are still certain stigmas and rumors that remain. Cancer is not contagious. You may experience difficultly at your place of employment if you do not look sick, as this is a problem that arises often in the workplace. Many people will have questions and concerns about you, your cancer, and the way you are living life. You will need to decide how you want to handle these types of situations.
Make your own Coping Strategy
Each and every person will have a different cancer journey, different treatment plan, side effects and outcomes. Here are some ideas on how to make your own coping strategy.
- 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 is 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. Avoid isolation and focus on maintaining the normal that you know, even if that means tweaking and altering certain tasks temporarily to make room for the cancer.
If you are having trouble accepting your cancer diagnosis, reach out to your medical care team and they can get you the information and resources to help get you back on track.