5 Things that Might Help You Process Your Cancer Diagnosis

by Brittany McNabb

Many people affected by cancer join our WhatNext family feeling helpless and overwhelmed. Some of the first questions they might post on the site are asking how they will accept their diagnosis and how to sift through their many feelings after hearing the words "You have cancer."

Questions To Ask Sooner Rather Than Later

Here are five things that might help you process your cancer diagnosis. Pass these five things on to anyone you know that may be struggling with their diagnosis.

1. Block out all the immediate "What ifs?" 

When you are diagnosed, you only know what you know. Understandably so, people tend to jump to the worst case scenario without all the information. Your mind might feel like it is going 100 miles a minute. In order to get past the initial news of diagnosis you may have to block out all those "what ifs" and "worst case scenarios." The comforting thing is that there are innumerable cancer survivors living in the world today and that there are treatment options that can save you.

2. Learn as much as you can about your cancer via reliable sources. 

In an effort to stay level-headed and informed about your diagnosis, finding out all the facts about your cancer can help you move forward. It can also help the true reality of things set in because you will have all the right information. Ask your doctor for reading material on your cancer and seek out more information via reliable sources like American Cancer Society, WebMd, and Mayo Clinic.

3. Develop your own strategy for handling stress. 

Only you truly know how you handle stress effectively. Whatever coping techniques you have used in the past during hard times, recruit those techniques now. Some people may like to take a day for themselves to process things, some may like to talk to their friends and family, some may seek out counseling, some start a journal, some take up meditation; whatever your style of handling stress, actively put those techniques in use at the time of diagnosis because they may be the tools that carry you through your journey.

4. Mentally prepare yourself for possible physical changes.

There are many emotional as well as physical side effects of cancer. It seems the one people panic about most is losing their hair due to chemotherapy. There are other side effects like weight changes that affect your physical appearance. While there is no master way of coping with this idea, it might help to mentally prepare yourself for what is to come. For example, many shave their head in preparation for losing their hair.

5. Dialogue about hope.

Many people find it helpful to talk about their diagnosis with family, friends, or their care team. When you are discussing cancer, don't forget to talk about hope. You may not feel it, but saying things out loud might help you come to the realization that there is hope. If you are feeling hopeless, here are some reasons others have found to hope.

As always...take advantage of the people in your life that are willing to help. There will be many people that ask "What can I do?" Give them specific tasks of how they can help to alleviate the stress of everything that is happening. You may be surprised how good it feels to let someone else help you.

Do you have any additional tips on how to process your diagnosis? What would you tell someone that is newly diagnosed with cancer?

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