Did you just learn you have cancer? Well, it’s time to make some adjustments in your life. There’s no doubt that cancer doesn’t just change your life but also the lives of those around you. Because there are many side effects and symptoms associated with this disease and its treatment, experiencing specific physical changes isn’t surprising. However, these changes affect the way you live and feel. With that said, this article offers you some tips for coping with the many concerns and issues that emerge when you have cancer and are undergoing treatment.
1. Try maintaining your normal lifestyle
Maintaining your everyday lifestyle is essential, but be flexible if required. For example, don’t plan a lot in advance, live in the present. Do what you usually do as long as it isn’t too taxing on your declining health. When times are stressful, using this strategy works. However, if the future is uncertain, planning and organizing may become very overwhelming. Still, maintaining a normal lifestyle is essential to make some sense of the changes taking place.
2. Review your priorities and goals
Find out what’s the most crucial thing in your life. There must be some activities that give you the most meaning and are most important to you- do them. Make a bucket list and start ticking items from it. Travel, connect with old friends, learn skills you always wanted to. It’s the small things that matter. Of course, you can also prioritize writing a Will if you know your days are numbered.
3. Sort out your finances
Cancer treatment can burn a hole through your pocket. So, seek all the financial aid you can get. Approach charities that help fund treatment for cancer patients or ensure you have adequate health insurance to cover towering bills. Also, if your cancer is due to exposure to harmful substances at the workplace (click here to learn more about such conditions), your employer might be liable to pay for your treatment. So, talk to a lawyer too.
4. Let family and friends help you
Usually, family and friends can help you with household chores, prepare meals, offer a ride to the hospital for chemo sessions, and run errands. If they’re helping, learn to accept it. This will give the people close to you a sense of purpose during these challenging times.
If help is needed, encourage your family to accept it. A cancer diagnosis adds stress and affects the whole family – especially the primary caregivers. However, caregivers can also experience burnout. The more people there are to help, the less stress on a few people.
5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will improve your energy levels. If you want to manage the fatigue and stress associated with cancer treatment, get adequate rest and eat a healthy diet comprising various nutritious foods. Include green veggies, fruits, protein, and fiber in your meals.
If you can participate in physical activities or exercise, that’ll be great. Research suggests that individuals who do workouts during treatment can live longer and cope better. However, consult your doctor first.
6. Anticipate physical changes
Planning for changes? Before you begin your treatment and after your cancer diagnosis is the best time. Call your doctor and ask what changes you should expect. For example, ask what treatments and medication will lead to hair loss and advise image experts about hairpieces, wigs, makeup, and clothing. This may help you feel attractive and more comfortable with your appearance as your treatment progresses. Often, insurance pays for prostheses, wigs, as well as other adaptive devices.
Also, take into account the impact that treatment will have on your day-to-day activities. See your doctor, ask whether you can carry on with your routine or do you need to make some changes. You may have regular medical appointments and may need to spend some time in the hospital. Remember, your treatment may also require a leave of absence from your work. So make arrangements beforehand.
7. Don’t close the lines of communication
Maintaining two-way, honest communication with the ones you love, doctors, and other people after your cancer diagnosis is the best you can do to cope. If you try to put up a strong front or people try to safeguard you from bad news, you’ll feel isolated. However, honest expression of emotions will allow you and your loved ones to gain strength from one another.
8. Get the facts about your cancer diagnosis
To make decisions regarding your treatment and care management, try to acquire as much helpful information as possible. Don’t hesitate to jot down your concerns and questions in advance and bring them with you to your doctor’s appointment. Consider asking the following questions:
- Can my family members get cancer? If yes, what are the chances?
- How do I prevent my cancer from occurring again?
- What are the side effects of the treatment?
- What should I expect during treatment?
- Will the treatment help me? How?
- Do I have multiple treatment options? What are they?
- What other procedures or tests do I need?
- Can my cancer be cured? What are the chances?
- Can my cancer be treated?
- Did my cancer spread?
- What type of cancer do I have?
When you visit your doctor in the initial phase, always bring a friend or family member along. They’ll help you later if you don’t remember some part of the conversation. Plus, how much you want to know about your cancer is your choice. Some people prefer to learn the basics and leave decisions and details to their doctors. Others wish to know the minutest of details and facts, so they’re actively involved in the decision-making process. Think about which approach will be better for you. Whatever your preference is, communicate it to the healthcare team.
How you cope with cancer depends on your role models, upbringing, your personality, past experiences, and the type of situation you’re dealing with. Still, this article mentions a few helpful tips. Set priorities, maintain normalcy, arrange your finance, communicate openly, and get more information on your condition. And remember, ask your family and friends to help you out with routine tasks.