Receiving a cancer diagnosis comes as a shock to the person with the disease, but also for people around them. Lots of thoughts whirl through your mind about how to manage this new chapter. Learning about a recurrence can also be overwhelming. After talking with a broad range of survivors spanning those who are at the beginning of their fight against cancer to those who have been managing cancer recurrences for decades, three key components emerge as the most critical for survivorship. They are:
- Get the best treatment possible and trust in your healthcare professionals. Seeking specialty care is one of the most important things you can do. Find an oncologist who is very experienced in your kind of cancer and regularly treats patients like you. These specialists tend to keep up with the latest treatments including clinical trial options. When you have developed a treatment plan, trust in your medical team and go for it – don’t look back.
- Find support and lean into it. When a person receives a cancer diagnosis, it is important to let some people know. Support is a “tried-and-true” method of coping with a cancer diagnosis and navigating through a treatment plan. While some friends and family members may want to keep their distance, others will want to help. Talking with other survivors or experienced caregivers about the choices they made and the difficult decisions they have faced can be very helpful. They also tend to be well connected and may know just the right person for you to talk with based on your individual needs. Some advocacy organizations are also very good at helping you find the support you need. So lean in and reach out – this is not a time to isolate!
- Surround yourself with positive energy. Cancer strikes people of all ages and backgrounds and is often indiscriminate. In an effort to find meaning or make sense of a cancer diagnosis people often turn to prayer, meditation and positive thinking. Engage in activities that make you feel good. No matter if someone has been fighting cancer for 30 years or was just diagnosed, positive energy is critically important in the fight against cancer.
By seeking the best treatment, finding and accepting support and soaking up positive energy, a cancer diagnosis or recurrence becomes more tolerable and increases your chances of ultimately beating it!