“Cancer” may be the most terrifying, gut-wrenching word in medicine. Negative emotions ranging from sadness, anger, and shock pave the way to realizing the tremendous physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges that lie ahead.
However, beyond the turmoils that accompany a cancer diagnosis, patients must face a practical necessity: to develop a tactical plan against cancer.
What should I do after a cancer diagnosis?
Cancer is overwhelming on its own, and the steps after diagnosis can be vexing. Fortunately, several resources are available to guide you every step of the way. New Hope Unlimited can help you get started on the journey.
First, collect all the facts about your disease. The American Cancer Society (ACS) suggests starting your research with your doctor. Ask as many questions as possible, including but not limited to:
- What type of cancer do I have?
- Can I get a copy of my pathology report? How do I get it?
- Where is the tumor located?
- Has cancer spread beyond the initial site?
- What stage of cancer do I have? What does that mean?
- Should I get a second opinion?
- How does this affect my treatment options?
- What are my chances of survival?
- What are my treatment options?
- Will I need other tests before choosing treatments?
- What treatment do you recommend and why?
- Will I experience side effects from treatment?
- What is the goal of my treatment?
- Are you experienced in treating this cancer type?
- Should I consider genetic testing?
- Should I join clinical trials?
If you are considering the internet for additional answers to your questions, it is vital to consult only unbiased and trustworthy sources. These include the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.
Get a second opinion
Getting a second opinion does not mean you have little faith in your practitioner. In fact, most reputable doctors recommend it, and some insurance companies require a second opinion.
Consulting another doctor can help you understand your situation and give you a better sense of control. Try setting an appointment with a different healthcare specialist. For example, if you have prostate cancer, you may get a different perspective from a radiation oncologist and another from a specialist in urology.
Create a file containing all information about your case
Nancy Brook, a nurse at Stanford Healthcare in Palo Alto, CA, recommends using a three-ring binder (or any folder) to collect every piece of critical information pertaining to your cancer case. Attach all documentation, such as your lab reports, notes about surgery, and results of blood tests and imaging scans. Do not forget to bring your compilation to every doctor’s appointment.
Open up to those who have your best interest at heart
Who to share your problems with and when to do it are personal decisions. However, if you think hiding your concerns will protect the people closest to you, you may cause more pain by keeping them in the dark.
Don’t be afraid to tell the people you love about your situation and treatment choices. Knowing the truth eliminates a lot of tension, and everyone can arrive at the same page. Living with and fighting cancer is one of the most challenging moments in your life. More than ever, it is the appropriate time for friends and family to come together.
Support matters and scientific research has documented this. But remember to know your limits. Friends and family can be extra enthusiastic in advocating aggressive treatments when they don’t fully understand the side effects and outcomes. Set your priorities and ensure they acknowledge your limitations.
Make an informed decision about your treatment
Let’s take a quick recap before continuing:
- Step 1: Gather as much information about your cancer
- Step 2: Get a second opinion
- Step 3: Compile all critical documents in one folder
- Step 4: Speak to friends and family
Once you get organized and know all the facts, it’s time to work with your chosen team on a treatment plan. Different facilities will have different treatment programs, and certain therapies can have side effects.
To help you decide what’s best, the right doctor will help you weigh the pros and cons of each procedure. Remember to work with a professional who listens to your concerns, explains your case in plain language, and understands your needs. If you don’t feel comfortable, do not hesitate to find another doctor. He or she may have outstanding credentials, but if the chemistry between you two is far from positive, you might do well to consider other options.
In addition, it will help to ask a friend or family member to accompany you to appointments. They can provide great assistance if you have a hard time focusing and remembering details.
Should I join a cancer support group?
Cancer support groups are intended to help people cope with all aspects of a cancer diagnosis. They provide a safe haven for patients to share experiences and learn from others who are facing similar obstacles. Since many groups are accessible online or through the telephone, you can participate from the comfort of your home or treatment facility.
Joining support groups is both a personal and optional choice. If you are interested, here are some ways to find one near you:
- Contact your local hospital and ask about their support programs
- Speak with other patients who have tried cancer support groups
- Do an online search or go to the NCI database for suggestions
As a final word of advice, remember that a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. It may be one of the most life-changing events of your life, but you can contribute to your own recovery by knowing the facts, getting emotional support, and making informed decisions.
What if I’m still looking for the right treatment center?
Consider New Hope Unlimited. We provide comprehensive care and alternative treatments for over 200 chronic degenerative diseases and immune disorders. Our team of specialized experts carefully design treatment programs based on a patient’s individual needs. Our certified doctors, who additionally practice alternative medicine, deliver advanced therapies with the least possible side effects on the body. Dial 480-757-6573 now for cancer treatments that prioritize quality of life.