A Cancer Survivor's Guide To Coping With Diagnosis: One Step At A Time

Written by Beth Marlin Lichter
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The diagnosis of cancer is most often, unexpected, and once you’ve been told you have it, your world gets turned upside down. The first reaction is one of fear. The future suddenly becomes uncertain. How will the family take it? What happens with work? How bad is this?

STEP ONE: Find a doctor you trust. You need an oncologist or a specialist who deals with your kind of cancer. Referrals are an excellent way to begin the search. Your doctor should be able to listen to your concerns and take the time to explain things to you. In this day and age, most cancer specialists have extremely hectic schedules and don’t have much time for talking. But the good ones are also sensitive to their patients’ needs, both physical and emotional. This is the professional you choose to walk you through the process of battling cancer. This is a person you will need to depend upon for sound advice and empathy.

STEP TWO: Gather information. What are the treatment options for your kind of cancer? Are the side effects manageable? Weigh the pros and cons. Is a combination of Western and Alternative medicine right for you? Getting a second opinion is a good idea. Stay away from people who are offering unhelpful or negative advice. Likewise, be careful about surfing the web in search of information. Much of what you come across may be unreliable, frightening and totally inapplicable to your particular case.

STEP THREE: Be communicative with people you care about. Relationships can actually become stronger, when dealing with health crises. Attend a cancer support group meeting. These forums are a great place to vent and find support among others going through the same thing.

STEP FOUR: See this as an opportunity to address your health in general. Go organic with your diet. Cut out the junk. Make sure you are getting exercise. If treatments such as chemotherapy or surgery are recommended, get as strong and healthy as you can, in preparation. This includes your mental health as well. Do things that make you feel good, daily. Stick to as much of your routine as possible but try something different, calming, restorative, such as a yoga class.

STEP FIVE: Don’t let depression overwhelm you. We are given challenges in Life for a reason. Sweep negative thoughts away and focus on the positive. Lean on the people you love, who feed you positive energy. Allow others to take care of you. Build your support group of physicians, family and friends and count your blessings daily. Each day is a gift. Although the future is uncertain, today is yours.

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