Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most difficult moments of a person’s life. Anxiety, fear, shock, depression, and anger are all common emotions, and a patient may feel each of these throughout the course of his or her treatment. Coping with the disease will be difficult, but it isn’t impossible.
Often a patient’s initial reaction is to ask questions, like, “Why me?” or “Did I cause my cancer?” Physicians and researchers don’t always have the answers to questions such as these. Cancer is often linked with certain risk factors. Some of these, such as smoking, sun exposure, or alcohol abuse can cause cancer. Others, like age, sex, and family history cannot be altered. However, having certain risk factors do not guarantee you will get cancer, just as not having certain risk factors doesn’t necessarily prevent you from getting cancer. There are many potential causes of different types of cancer, and there are many variables as to why certain people get cancer. It is important that patients don’t blame themselves for their diagnosis.
Most patients require an “adjustment period” after receiving their diagnosis. Many use this time to evaluate their treatment options and seek support from loved ones. This first stage can be emotional, and patients need to find appropriate outlets for feelings they may be dealing with.
To more effectively cope with their diagnosis, patients should make an effort to learn all they can about their particular diagnosis. Having knowledge often leads to a bigger sense of control. Learning about the diagnosis can provide answers and additional advice on how to deal with the disease.
Taking care to stay physically fit and otherwise healthy gives the body the extra “boost” it needs to fight the disease. Exercises like yoga, pilates, swimming and walking can provide an outlet for pent up emotions, bring a sense of peace and help the body to stay strong.
Patients should surround themselves with positive energy and find support groups or trusted loved ones to share experiences with. Fighting cancer and coping with our diagnosis is not an easy task. Staying positive and determined to beat this disease is a significant part of the battle. Patients should keep their physicians informed if they are experiencing extreme emotions or significant anxiety, so that they can seek the appropriate help.