More than one-third of us will develop cancer at least once in our lives, but a good portion of those diagnosed with cancer will have many years of full and productive life with and after the diagnosis. How you manage the myriad of emotions that accompany your diagnosis and treatment plays an important role in your health. You have the power to improve your prognosis. The following actions can help make cancer treatment and the journey to recovery easier.
Get Control of the Situation
A bit of research can help you feel more empowered. Learn everything you can about your cancer, what stage you have and who tends to get the cancer that you have. Online searches and discussions with your doctors can guide your research. Find out about the various treatment options, including how they work, the pros and cons of each and where treatment centers are located. As you choose your course of treatment, you may also want to talk to your medical team to make sure you feel comfortable with the doctor, nurses and support staff.
During this time, you may feel a wide range of feelings. You may be angry that you have cancer, worried that your family won’t be able to cope, or in denial that you even have cancer. You may also feel depressed about your future. Stress can occur if you start worrying about how well treatment will go and how you will pay for care. Hope is also a possibility, and it is more likely when you become involved in your own care.
Build Your Support Network
For most people, your family is your first support group. Talk to your family members about how you’re feeling and what you expect to experience during and after your treatment. The American Cancer Society suggests talking to your family members about your cancer and their respective possible roles. Your spouse, for example, may want to do more of the household chores and need to comfort you more. Your children should know that cancer is not their fault. You can give them information based on their ages.
Cancer support groups are made up of members who have cancer or who are otherwise affected by cancer. They may be cancer survivors or have family members with cancer. Some support groups regularly meet in-person, while others are based online. Support groups can offer you the chance to share your feelings and learn coping tricks from people who have already been where you are now. You can find support groups through the American Cancer Society, which also has online chat and telephone operators standing by at all hours.
Learn about Nutrition and Exercise for Cancer
A healthy diet can help you through cancer treatment, which can include side effects like infections, weight loss and injuries to healthy tissue as you undergo radiation therapy. Getting enough calories can be a challenge if you feel nauseous after therapy sessions, and a dietitian with expertise in cancer nutrition can suggest strategies for getting more calories into your diet. Protein, vitamin C, vitamin A and other nutrients are essential for your immune system to fight infections. You may have special needs, such as a low-fiber or low-carb diet, to consider.
As long as your doctor approves, exercise is another healthy habit to continue throughout your treatment. Physical activity can help keep your muscles and bones strong, reduce stress and help you maintain your independence throughout treatment. Your ability to exercise may vary day to day depending on how you’re feeling.
Once you’re diagnosed with cancer, you’ll want to know what you can do to get your health back as soon as possible. You can take some immediate steps to make sure that you have the best medical team, your support system is solid and you keep yourself as physically and mentally healthy as possible. Taking action can make you feel more hopeful. Scientists don’t know the precise explanation, but the evidence consistently shows that positive people respond better to cancer therapies.