In 2016, nearly 1.7 million new cancer cases were expected to be diagnosed in the United States. Types of cancer and stage progression keep varying, so the journey is never the same for any two people. There are many factors that contribute to the likelihood of cancer development. For those who are at high risk of developing cancer, there are blood tests for cancer that can help you understand your personal risk. Assessing risk is only one of the first steps.
Coming to Terms with a Cancer Diagnosis
How you process and deal with your diagnosis can make a big difference in how you face the battle ahead. Not everyone will benefit from the same tools, but here are some ways to help you come to terms with what’s happening in a healthy way:
- Overcome your fear with knowledge. Once you’ve been given a cancer diagnosis, your doctor will be able to tell you what type of cancer you have, where it is, if it has spread, and more about your treatment options. Learning about your options and the course of your treatment will help you see that you can handle it.
- Don’t hide your emotions. It’s okay to cry, be angry, or grieve. Of course, not everyone is good at sharing how they feel, but it can be isolating to cover it all up. Talk openly with your loved ones and encourage the expression of your emotions—get it all out there so you can be stronger together.
- Be prepared for the physical changes. Cancer treatment can mean big changes to the way you look. Ask your doctor what kind of changes you can expect. If you can, start making plans to address these changes early.
- Try to exercise and eat as well as you can. Some cancer treatments can make you very sick, change the way you taste, or even rob you of your appetite altogether. When you do feel like eating, try to choose a healthy, balanced diet whenever possible and if you have the energy for some exercise—even if it’s just a walk—take it. Using physical activity can help channel stress in a healthy way.
- Try to keep life as normal as you can. Maintaining a normal lifestyle may seem simple, but it’s one trick that people often overlook. Life doesn’t have to stop because of a cancer diagnosis. If you feel like going to work and it’s okay with your doctor, go. If you had book club on Tuesday nights, keep it up. There’s no need to put your life on hold.
- Keep a journal. Of course, not everyone is a writer, but if you find journaling helpful, it’s fine to get all of your thoughts and feelings out on paper. Be bold—you don’t have to share it with anyone so feel free, to be honest.
Persevering through your Cancer Diagnosis
Cancer is taxing for both the mind and body. That’s why it’s so important to try to stay as positive as you can and press forward in ways that build you up—not tear you down. If you find yourself turning to unhealthy behaviors, speak up. Tell your loved ones or healthcare team how you’ve been feeling and ask for help. It’s never too late to change and fight your best battle against cancer.