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Learning you have cancer can be frightening. Concerns over treatment, prognosis and how your family will cope can be overwhelming. But education and support can help you deal with a cancer diagnosis.

Hearing the words “you have cancer” can cause a lot of emotions from fear to depression. It is normal to feel apprehensive and anxious. But cancer is often curable. If you or a family member were diagnosed with cancer, there are several things you can do in order to cope emotionally and physically.

Initially After Cancer a Diagnosis

Dealing with the initial news of a cancer diagnosis is challenging, and it is not something you should try to deal with alone.

One of the first things you can do is enlist support.

Whether it is a significant other, adult child, parent or a good friend, you need someone in your corner.

Ideally, a support person should accompany you to your initial meeting with your oncologist. Having someone else with you when you are meeting with the doctor is a good idea for many reasons. For example, a support person may remember to ask questions that you forget.

After a cancer diagnosis, you may be on information overload. It can be easy to become overwhelmed with everything. Another set of ears in the room can help you recall information at a later time.

You will likely have a lot of questions about your diagnosis. If possible, record the conversation with your doctor or take notes, so you can refer to it later. Don’t hesitate asking questions. Learning about treatment options and how to manage treatment side effects is critical.

Fear related to a cancer diagnosis is in part caused by the unknown.

Becoming educated about the disease and about what to expect may take some of the fear of the unknown away.

While education can be empowering, you may want to stay away from searching online day and night about your disease. You can go overboard reading cancer stories and statistics.

In addition to learning what you can, don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. Depending on your insurance coverage, a second opinion consultation is often covered. Even if you trust your doctor, it may be reassuring to get another experts treatment recommendations.

Managing Cancer Side Effects

Cancer treatment can vary and may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, targeted therapies and complementary treatment. Some people may develop side effects from certain treatments. It is important to understand, side effects vary widely depending on what type of treatment is administered. Additionally, response to treatment varies considerably, and some people do not experience any side effects.

When side effects do occur, they also vary in severity. Common side effects of cancer treatment way include hair loss, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. A decrease in immune system function and fatigue are also common side effects of some types of treatment, such as chemotherapy. But there are many options available to help patients deal with side effects. For example, medication may be prescribed, which helps prevent and reduce nausea and vomiting associated with cancer medications.

Complementary therapies, such as meditation, massage, acupressure and guided imagery, may also be helpful in combating certain treatment side effects. Don’t wait until you experience side effects to learn ways to reduce them. Ask your doctor about possible side effects and what you can do to prevent them before you start treatment.   

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