Just Diagnosed with Cancer?
Have you just been diagnosed with cancer?
Are you feeling overwhelmed, confused,
lost and scared?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Most individuals newly diagnosed with cancer feel this way, so it’s important for you to know that how you might be feeling is common.
For most individuals, cancer may be their first major life stressor and with no prior experience handling a serious threat, it’s understandable why many feel overwhelmed and end up feeling distressed.
Having difficulty falling asleep because of worry, feeling more irritable, isolating or withdrawing from others, having a hard time getting things done at work and at home – are all signs that you may be having difficulty adjusting to your cancer diagnosis.
For most cancer patients this distress tends to decrease as treatment progresses over time, but for about 25% of cancer patients this distress continues and can get worse over time. Therefore, it’s important to know the warning signs and get support early on in treatment to figure out how to cope effectively and avoid long-lasting negative effects on your mood and quality of life.
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3 tips on managing these overwhelmed feelings when first diagnosed with cancer:
1. Acknowledge that this is a scary, uncertain process and expect that this year may be more challenging. Cancer treatment is long, even amongst patients diagnosed at early stages. Having tests done, waiting for results, undergoing surgery, chemotherapy or radiation – all take time to complete and recover from. Therefore, no matter what stage patients are diagnosed, I encourage them to prepare their expectations for the upcoming year, to appreciate the length of the interruption cancer causes while allowing space for some ups and downs
2. Create time and space in your schedule to allow you to process whatever feelings you may have on your own. It’s natural to feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster once your diagnosed with cancer, and if this is a new ride for you, schedule time for you to express yourself and feel however you may feel, without any judgement. Anger, sadness, fear are all common and natural feelings after being diagnosed. It’s important give yourself time to feel these feelings on your own without worrying about how other’s may react. So ,try sitting in a park for half an hour or waiting just an extra 10 minutes in the car listening to your favorite songs before you go into your home after work – whatever you need to MAKE TIME for your feelings about your cancer.
3. Identify your support team. Going through cancer treatment is tough and a healthy support system is critical for getting through treatment. Identify who in your network you can go to for what types of support. For example, who do you want to listen to you – to just listen and not give advice? Who can join you for appointments and help you ask questions? Who can help you with household chores when you’re feeling a bit tired? It’s important to identify who can help you with what, so that you get the support you need and your team can help you in the best way they can.
These are just a few tips for how to cope once diagnosed. There are numerous strategies that have been researched to help patients manage distress and make treatment decisions. Take your time in learning these and if you need more individualized support, all you have to do is ask.