Most often a diagnosis of cancer takes you by surprise. You may not have been feeling well over a long period of time but no one really ever suspects the big C. You’ve finally gone to the doctor, undergone a series of tests and the results are in. It is confirmed that you have cancer. Since a positive diagnosis takes most people by surprise, even though they may have suspected cancer, it is often difficult knowing what to do next. Here are a few tips for patients newly diagnosed with cancer.
Cancer Is Not a Death Warrant
There was a time in the not so distant past that a diagnosis of cancer signaled imminent death but that is no longer the case. Treatments for many types of cancer including breast cancer, skin cancer, thyroid cancer and prostate cancer just to name a few, have advanced and where there was once no hope, now the survival rate is better than 50/50. The first thing you need to do is realize the fact that being diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean you need to give up hope. There is always hope so don’t lose heart.
Discuss Possible Treatments
The first thing you should do, sometimes even before seeking a second opinion is to talk to a well-respected oncologist. There are new treatments cropping up every day and some of them are able to affect cures where once there was no hope whatsoever. Also, you may want to discuss all those horror stories you’ve heard about chemotherapy. New drugs are on the market that weren’t around a generation ago that mitigate many of the side effects we fear most. Some doctors may even agree that medical marijuana is a possible treatment for nausea and may refer you to a local dispensary for edibles or tinctures to help alleviate nausea naturally. Growing numbers of doctors are prescribing complementary and alternative medical treatments so check those out as well.
Get a Second Opinion
Before starting any treatment, you may still have questions that there is some mistake or that there are alternative treatments (as mentioned above) that you could pursue. It never hurts to get a second opinion and many of the nation’s leading oncologists routinely recommend you get a second opinion if they feel you are insecure with the diagnosis you have been given. Any doctor that is absolutely sure of what they are doing will not be threatened that you need to confirm what you have heard. They know the fear you are facing and part of your treatment will mean keeping a positive attitude as you go through each step along the way.
Draw on the Support of Family and Friends
You will also need a strong support system. Surviving cancer takes its toll on you in ways you can only begin to imagine. What many patients have reported is that living with all the uncertainties is worse than the treatments and that’s why a strong support system saw them through those trying days. There may be days when getting out of bed is a challenge and other days when you want to throw up your hands in despair. Your family and friends should be there for you during this time and their strength will hold you up on the darkest of days.
One final word of advice is to do your best to keep a positive attitude and laugh as often as possible. Find humor in the smallest of things and keep a smile on your face. Laughter is a healing tonic and it costs nothing to use those muscles on your face! There is much to be said for the power of positive thinking and laughter is your roadmap to a positive frame of mind. Remember, cancer treatments are advancing by the day and only you know what you want to do with your life. With the support of a great oncology team and your family and friends, you can do what you need to do. As a wise man once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)