When you heard the words, time seemed to stand still. It’s cancer. Not the dreaded C word. Perhaps you thought it would never happen to you. Maybe to someone you know, but not you.
It is important to know that you are not alone in your diagnosis. In 2007, close to 12 million people in the United States had cancer, with about 1.5 million people newly diagnosed in 2010. Each one of these people heard the same word: cancer.
Understanding your emotions and accepting your cancer diagnosis is the first step to moving forward, but can also be the most difficult thing to do. The range of emotions you may feel include shock, disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger, anxiety or depression. Your family and friends will feel the same range of emotions. How you respond to these emotions depends on your beliefs, values, experiences, and your support system.
Information. Some people feel more in control once they can learn as much as possible about their diagnosis. What is it? What are your treatment options? Where can you go for support? What questions do you have? How can you find answers? An excellent resource is available from the American Cancer Society. Simply call 1-800-ACS-2345 and you can speak with a Cancer Information Specialist, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Specialists can answer questions and provide information about types of cancers, treatment and coping. They can also direct you to support resources in your area.
Exploration. Be your own advocate and get your family members on board. In your quest to find services, treatment options and answers, enlist the support of family and friends. Make sure you have the right information to make informed decisions. You can’t change your diagnosis, but with the right information and resources, you can make the best decisions possible. Take some time to explore your options and call the NCI Cancer Information Service to get some of the latest cancer information available (1-800-4-CANCER).
Support. Reach out to your friends, family and health care professionals. Bring someone along to your appointments, as both a support and a second set of ears. Spiritual advisors (ministers, priests, pastors) can provide a sense of peace and another outlet of support. Let others know how you are feeling and make sure to see a professional if you find yourself overwhelmed. There are always people willing to help.
You cannot change your diagnosis, but by taking control of how you handle it, you will feel empowered in your decision-making. Take care of yourself and allow others to help as you find the path of treatment and recovery that is best for you.
Here at The Medical Center of Plano, we can help you with guidance, support and care you need in fighting the battle against cancer. If you have questions, visit us online or give us a call at (972) 596-6800 to find out about our cancer support groups.
Cancer Facts and Figures (The American Cancer Society)
Coping with Cancer (National Cancer Institute)
A Message of Hope: Coping with Cancer in Everyday Life (The American Cancer Society)