With the scans and tests completed and a cancer diagnosis confirmed the next step is often your first appointment with an oncologist.
“I’ve faced this encounter hundreds of times, but each person is unique,” says McLeod Oncologist Ravneet Bajwa, MD. “You’re dealing with the medical and physical issues but also the emotional and psychological dimensions that swirl through your brain. Having some tips and a plan can bring clarity to your mind and your treatment.”
Prepare for this conversation. Use a journal or notebook to record your physical symptoms and emotional feelings. Share these with your specialist, family, minister or support group.
Start asking questions, such as what specifically is your diagnosis? Cancer is a collection of more than 100 medical diseases.
Don’t Hesitate to Talk About Your Feelings. It’s natural to feel emotional after learning you have cancer. However, if these feelings last a long time without improving it can lead to depression. Continued depression can impede your healing. Seek professional help if you think you are depressed.
You can also talk with someone or express your emotions through music or painting. In addition, your family members may be experiencing similar anxiety and fear. Talking about it together can help all those involved.
When you feel overwhelmed, reach out to others. They may want to help, but don’t know how. Listening and talking with you may be as much a positive experience for them as it is for you.
Think about your lifestyle. Will you have to adjust your work or exercise during treatment? Do you need parenting assistance? Should you plan on more rest? What about a change in your diet?
THE FINAL WORD
Cancer treatments are continually improving. If cancer is detected and treated early, long-term survival and living a full life is an increasing reality.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Council of Australia, American Cancer Society