Background: WhatNext.com is an online support network developed in partnership with the American Cancer Society that helps help cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers gain firsthand insight into living with cancer and connect with others facing a similar diagnosis. Members of WhatNext.com are sometimes referred to as "WhatNexters."
Once you or a loved one are faced with a cancer diagnosis, you have so many questions, fears and concerns. How am I going to get through this? Where do I begin? It's scary and not easy. We've turned to our WhatNext-ers, and asked them what advice they would give to someone who is newly diagnosed with cancer and needs support. They've been through it, hopefully their words of wisdom can help.
1. Assemble your team. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a team to beat cancer. Once you accept you have cancer and have a journey in front of you, it's time to assemble your team. The team isn't just doctors and nurses, but also family and friends, and even strangers. There are so many aspects of the journey ahead that you can never prepare for. Accepting help and gathering a support system is critical. It also helps to know you are not alone in the journey. -- CarolLHRN
2. Know who you can let your guard down with. Emotional health is so important and often ignored by many providers. Make sure you have someone to talk with and don't be afraid of all the emotions you will experience from fear and sadness to laughter and joy and everything in between. To have the strength to move through the journey, your mind has to be strong too. -- CarolLHRN
3. Be selfish. Be very selfish, you need to put yourself first. Put together a laundry list of things that need to get done now and tell a friend. It is perfectly OK to do so. Then, let go all the negative thoughts, acts and things. -- cranburymom
4. Take control. This is your life and you control what is done to you. Ask questions. challenge answers, and research what you are told. Second and third opinions are good choices. Keep your family close, thank well-wishers, trust in God, and deal with the emotions as they come along. -- emtp12
5. Give yourself a break. So what if your house isn't perfect, the cupboard is bare, or you don't have clean underwear, you can worry about all of that later. Don't be afraid to accept help, if people don't really want to help they shouldn't offer, I personally didn't go to Wal-Mart for months and my husband and I survived, so what if he bought the wrong brand of toiletpaper. Also, it is ok to freak out, it is ok to be scared, and it is ok to be angry. You also have to do everything you can to make educated decisions and do what is right for you. Don't second guess yourself. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. -- grams2jc
6. You are alive - live! Remember that you are still alive and your family needs you. Be selfish with your energy level and with doing things that are not totally necessary, but hoard what you do have to make time for your close friends and family. It's so easy to fall into depression and to be overwhelmed, but right now you are still here and you need to treasure that time! -- danellsar
7. Take care of youself, and that means crying, too. Allow yourself to freak out and cry once in a while. But give yourself a certain time of day to do it. Allow it to own a place in your life, give it it's own freedom and then put it away and focus on your goals. Take care of your body - eat well, get the rest you need when you need and by all means rely on the kindness of others. No one knows what to do with you. They try to help and sometimes it seems overwhelming but the relief you experience by just saying "yes" even if it's not in your nature and just allowing and letting go of it all. Sharing it with others is a way of healing. You need to get the disease out of your body. -- kimjx6
8. Have a positive attitude. Realize you are not alone. There are many of us in the same boat. Cancer does suck but in most cases it is definitely beatable-so gear up for a fight and keep positive. Push the worries aside and focus on each day as a gift, smell some roses, then just keep living your life. Life gets back to semi-normal--but you do change. Some good-some not so good. So watch the poor me syndrome-and finish the race. --indyeastside
9. Be ready for anything. I am losing my sight and at times my will. I am not a weak person but I do cry. It makes me feel better to get that stuff out even if the hurt feelings and worrying thoughts will come back. -- flyglo
10. Surround yourself with others who support you. If there aren't any, go find some. You play a huge part in your healing. Tell yourself you're going to be ok until you believe it. I dealt with losing my hair by praying, so when it was time to cut it, I was ok and I didn't cry. This should change your life for the better! It should change your perspective on life and make you realize what's really important. Only look at the positives. -- RebeccaLynn25
Do you have any suggestions? Please comment below or join the conversation.
If you've been diagnosed with cancer, take a minute to join the WhatNext community and find others near you who have been in your shoes. There’s no better way to get first-hand insights into living with cancer than by connecting with others who are currently doing just that.