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6 Things To Do When Diagnosed with Cancer

6 Things To Do When Diagnosed With Cancer

Several steps will help you cope with this life-altering event

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A diagnosis of cancer is a life-altering event. Dale Shepard, MD, PhD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute offers tips on the actions to take when you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer.

1. Get a second opinion

It’s important for you and your family to be comfortable with the physician, the choice of therapy, and the treatment facility. A second opinion can ensure that you are well informed as you start treatment and may prevent apprehension later about whether you received the proper care.

2. Ask questions

Your oncologist has treated hundreds of patients with cancer, but this is likely your first time with this diagnosis. Too often, patients don’t ask questions because they assume there are things they should already know or that their question will be answered later. Asking questions helps you get the information that is important to you and ensures the oncologist that you are informed about your disease and treatment. Everyone benefits from your questions.

3. Remember what you’ve heard

A diagnosis of cancer is overwhelming to most patients and details from the initial visits with the oncologist may be lost due to the volume of new or difficult to understand information. Bring a family member or friend to your appointments to help remember what was discussed. It’s a good idea to take notes or to ask your oncologist to record your appointment to review later.

4. Use the Internet responsibly

There may be a period of time between a biopsy showing cancer and an initial appointment with an oncologist to review the diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. Many patients are eager to learn more about their cancer and turn to the Internet. While this can be a good source of information if the proper sites are reviewed, blogs and message boards sometimes provide inaccurate information and lead to unnecessary anxiety.

5. Understand the goal of your cancer treatment

Treatment for cancer can be given to cure disease, to prevent disease recurrence or to minimize symptoms of disease and prolong survival. Too often, patients in clinic for a second opinion don’t understand what treatment was initially recommended or the goals of that therapy. They may have metastatic disease and incorrectly assume that chemotherapy is likely to cure them. Knowing the goals of therapy will allow you to understand more about your disease and treatment and can minimize future frustration.

6. Tell others about your cancer

Patients benefit from good social support as they go through treatment. You should tell your family and friends so they can help you in what can be a difficult time. Some patients don’t want to burden those around them, but this is a disease that affects them too. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help and support.

Tags: cancer, diagnosis
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  • Mustanglover64

    Since I’ve fought 3 separate types of cancer I’ll add these: Do not be afraid to ask questions. Ask until you fully understand your diagnosis, treatment options, and prognosis. Share any special circumstances in your home/family and your medical situation that may affect your treatment. Never assume your oncologist knows what another physician has diagnosed or prescribed. Ask questions to know and be aware of what to expect with the treatment option you choose.

    Do not be afraid to seek 2nd and 3rd opinions. This is YOUR life, not your physician’s! (You won’t hurt your doctor’s feelings.)

    Consider alternative medicine therapies in combination with traditional medicine. Meet with a licensed counselor to work thru the emotional trauma a cancer diagnosis brings into your life and the lives of your immediate family members.

    Connect with other cancer patients for support! It is helpful to meet others who are facing or have faced similar diagnosis and talk, even if you do not feel ready to share because it is too fresh and painful. You will find out about helpful resources in your community and make new friends to phone when you need to talk to someone who understand what you are facing and may be able to offer suggestions or another contact person for assistance.

    Blessings!
    Kim Killen

  • http://www.facebook.com/connie.friebis Connie Friebis

    When I was diagnosed with breast cancer.I had drs.I trusted and did exactlywhat they told me to do . And my husband of 57 yrs was with me trough it all.I know that made everything a whole lot easier  That was 3yrs ago and I am still going strong

  • js1960

    My advice … stay strong, have faith, trust in your physicians, if you want another opinion – get one, and do not search the internet for every symptom or diagnosis you are going through.  Remember you are an individual – no one is like you – everything happens differently to different people.  Family and Friends made sure I got copies of every article out there … but I did not read most, nor did I do much searching.  My breast cancer was happening to me – I did not want to get more depressed by articles from people who were having a hard time, nor did I want to assume all was going to be perfect.  My surgeon was wonderful and she and her staff kept me on the right track.  I think the world of her but that first day was pretty hard for everyone involved.  Thankful to her and my cardiologist, and everyone at the Cleveland Clinic!  Surgery was almost a year ago and I couldn’t have asked for better care!

  • geh

    And, please, if you are taking chemo, watch who you go around. Your immune system is low and you are very prone to get colds, flu, etc. and not be able to fight them off. May sound hinkey but if you have to, wear that mask, use that hand sanitizer often to help fight off those germs that your body can’t at that time.

  • Judy lilley

    Pray

  • Unstoppable

    Step 1. Visit an MD, preferably a specialist in your type of cancer, that’s why my doctor sent me to the Cleveland Clinic. Ask about treatment options including investigational studies. Try to keep all aspects in perspective even though it is very overwhelming facing your own mortality. Research diet, exercise and meditation to help bring some control and balance during uncertain times! Once decided upon, follow your doctor’s treatment regiment to the T. Get adequate rest and hydration. On the worst days try to do one thing, even if its just as simple as brushing your teeth or sitting up in a chair looking outside. Enjoy & live each day!

  • Margaret

    Don’t forget to take vitamins to help your body heal. Evan if the Dr. doesn’t reccomend it. Treat the whole body not just the cancer.

  • yaya

    The main thing it does not tell you is to STAY AWAY FROM SUGAR. Caner loves sugar!!

  • samspad

    WHEN I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER…..I WAS TOLD IT WAS STAGE 4 TONGUE CANCER….WHICH MEANT NOTHING TO ME……I WENT ONLINE TO THE CANCER CHAT ROOM AND GOT A LOT OF ANSWERS…..AND BEST OF ALL, A LOT OF COMPASSION…….THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THERE THAT HAVE CANCER, HAD CANCER, OR ARE CARE GIVERS OF PEOPLE WITH CANCER……SO, IF YOU ARE EVER DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER…..MAKE SURE YOU GO THERE……WHAT A GREAT HELP IT WAS TO ME…….THE PEOPLE IN THAT CHAT ROOM ARE ANGELS……