First Steps Following a Cancer Diagnosis
The word “cancer” elicits a lot of emotions including fear, anxiety, and sadness. Countless people have endured the feelings associated with a difficult diagnosis for ourselves or a loved one. The March 2016 AARP Bulletin article written by Renee Bacher titled “Coping with The Diagnosis” outlines some essential first steps that should be taken following that life-changing discussion with your doctor which reveals a cancer diagnosis.
Make sure to consult a doctor who you trust and who has a detailed understanding of your specific situation. Come up with a plan together to decide your course of action. As Bacher notes, don’t be afraid to take a breath. Self-advocate by identifying which doctor is best for you and your goals. Never fear making the request for a second opinion. Doctors should be open to this decision and if they are not willing to discuss a second opinion, this could indicate a “red flag” that your doctor might not be the best fit. Also, ask about any available clinical trials from which you might benefit. Visit The American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org. They offer a free service that helps patients identify available clinical trials to explore.
For the internet-savvy, Bacher cites some widely used web-based resources which can also be part of valuable first steps following a cancer diagnosis. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) offers regional resources for patients and caregivers. Their website is www.mskcc.org. MSKCC offers educational materials for both adult and children patients and caregivers. Sharing your experiences with friends and family, as well as through community-based programming like support groups, can be a big help with the coping process. Choose the option that feels right for you, depending on your personality. One website, www.caringbridge.org, allows patients to compose personal health journals to be shared with chosen contacts.
Remember that you have many professional resources to seek out and one of the first steps following a diagnosis is to assemble your team. Don’t forget the valuable roles professionals such as social workers, nutritionists, clergy, and occupational therapists can play in your coping process. At Weatherby & Associates, PC our Life Care Plan program is designed to offer you trusted professionals from both the legal and social work disciplines who can contribute to your team. Coping with a diagnosis of cancer will always be difficult, but doesn’t have to be insurmountable. For more information on our firm, contact us at 860-769-6938.