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Cancer Diagnosis and The Emotional Angle

Psycho-oncologists, who address the emotional needs of cancer patients, have determined that a healthy emotional response to a cancer diagnosis includes three phases—initial reaction, distress and adjustment—that will take patients through a typical grieving process.

The initial reaction to a cancer diagnosis is often shock and disbelief, followed by a period of distress characterized by mixed symptoms of anxiety, anger and depression. 

Many people say that their experience after a cancer diagnosis also includes feelings of hope and connection. For some, it can be a time of reflection and lead to new goals and priorities.

WF team contacted Bonnie McIntosh, a principal Consultant at ACE Community Health Inc., an MBA, MPH, BA Community Health, and CHES® to cover the aspect of facing cancer diagnosis and coping tips at the emotional front. What she indicated has been mentioned below,

1. Get and Stay Informed

Examples of questions to consider asking include:

  1. What type of cancer do I have? 
  2. Has the cancer spread; if so, where? 
  3. How is my cancer treated, and what are the side effects of treatment? 
  4. What is my prognosis, and should I expect to be able to continue my normal routine?
  5. What can I do to care for myself, and to prevent the cancer from coming back?
  6. What will my insurance pay for, and not pay for?
  7. Are there assistance programs to help me pay for my treatment? 
  8. Will I, my family, or friends have to take time off of work?
  9. Will I be eligible for disability benefits?
  10. What impact will this have on my life insurance?

2. Maintain Communication 

Examples of communication strategies to consider include:

  1. Determine when you will need to communicate your diagnosis and treatment to the people closest to you.
  2. Determine what you will need to communicate about your diagnosis and treatment to the people closest to you.
  3. Determine how you will need to communicate your diagnosis and treatment to the people closest to you.
  4. Determine the best way to communicate with your health care team.
  5. Determine how you will cope with stigmas related to your diagnosis and treatment.

3. Get Support

Examples of support to consider getting include:

  1. Bring a friend or family member to health care visits.
  2. Join support groups, and use services in your area.
  3. It may be helpful to talk to people who have shared your experiences; so talk to other people who have cancer, and who have had cancer. 
  4. A cancer diagnosis and treatment can impact the person diagnosed and treated, as well as their loved ones; so accept help from friends and family members, and also assure your friends and family members that it is okay to accept help.
  5. Get support from a spiritual advisor or counselor.

4. Practice Self-Care

Examples of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and coping strategies to consider include:

  1. Get adequate rest
  2. Choose healthy foods
  3. Manage stress
  4. Choose and do relaxation techniques that you enjoy
  5. Move your body/exercise in ways that you enjoy
  6. Set priorities and keep a journal
  7. Make time for yourself and for your relationships
  8. Prepare yourself for physical changes that come with a cancer diagnosis and treatment
  9. Get and stay informed, and maintain open communication
  10. Get support

You should always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions that you have about a medical condition. Never delay seeking professional medical advice or disregard professional medical advice. 

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