This article has been written by dr. Garvita Arora for CancerBro.
Being diagnosed with cancer has a major impact on the person’s life rigorously affecting their everyday routine, lifestyle, work and emotions. More than 24 million people have received a diagnosis of cancer over the past 5 years worldwide with more than 40% reporting of challenges in accomplishing some of their daily activities. While there is not a definite answer to what you must certainly do after receiving a diagnosis, this article will show you ways to cope with your physical and emotional health after receiving a cancer diagnosis.
Having cancer puts you at the edge of asking questions about the prognosis of cancer, how serious your cancer is, in how long will you be cured and will you be treated at all. It is normal to ask all these sorts of questions from your physician and oncologist in order to gain clarity about your diagnosis. Feel free to ask as many questions from your cancer group and understand what kind of treatment is the best suited for you.
Enquire about your treatment options and also about the side effects, because they are very likely to occur. Being aware of the side effects of your treatment at the earliest stage will help you in taking protective measures at the earliest. Ask your doctor how severe your side effects could be and how you should manage them. Also ask how your diagnosis is expected to affect your daily lifestyle: can you regularly go to work and have a routine social life? It’s important to seek your doctor’s advice for the management of your condition.
3 Areas of Life to Address after a Cancer Diagnosis
Dealing with Feelings after Receiving the Diagnosis
After gaining clarity on these matters, it is important that you start taking small steps towards self – management, of course with help from your doctors and cancer support group. At this stage, you are bound to have a variety of emotional reactions to your diagnosis which can range from denial, anger, fear and frustration to anxiety, helplessness and grief. Stress and anxiety are quite common among individuals who have been newly diagnosed with cancer.You may feel overwhelmed by the diagnosis of cancer and how you will manage the condition ahead. You must understand that it is okay to go through a rollercoaster of emotions at this time of emotions at this time.
Unfortunately, almost 41 % of all Americans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer at some points in their life, so you must understand that you are not alone. There are support groups you can join, forums where you can ask your questions and activities that you can do.
While most of these feelings can be dealt with, some individuals can slip into grief and depression after receiving their diagnosis. This is whysupport and therapy are a major part of cancer management. In case you feel immense sadness or worry, have a feeling of numbness or you begin to lose interest in activities you used to enjoy before the diagnosis, it is important that you immediately talk to your doctor. After managing these symptoms, you will be filled with a sense of hope and freshness, which is important for you to be going ahead.
Making Lifestyle Changes after the Diagnosis
Being hopeful and optimistic, now is the time you actually plan what to make necessary lifestyle changes along with following the treatment protocol as recommended to you by your doctors. Fatigue is the most commonly reported symptom of cancer and has been identified as a major interference in pursuing daily activities. So, your foremost concern is managing fatigue, which can inevitably be managed with the help of proper rest and care. Getting good – quality, undisturbed sleep for 7 to 9 hours each day is imperative for all cancer patients. Other than this, having a balanced diet and seeking treatment for any possible nutritional deficiencies like iron are important for managing fatigue.
Pain is an equally common complaint among those affected with cancer, and has been reported by almost half of the affected individuals. Along with taking medications to control pain as prescribed by your doctor, massaging the affected area or making the use of heat pads can providesome relief. Hot and cold therapies can also be used, but, you must be careful to avoid too hot or too cold stimuli in order to protect your skin from burning.
Your skin is likely to be sensitive after your treatment begins. Using a good – quality moisturiser applied each day and a sunscreen used while going outdoors can help protect your skin. This is something you must start following immediately after your treatment begins. Similarly, it is important to protect your hair, which can be possible by keeping it covered. Keeping your hair and skin covered while stepping out and wearing loose clothing is the best thing you can do to keep yourself comfortable throughout the day.
Working after the Diagnosis
If your physical health permits, you do not need to make any big changes with lifestyle with what it was pre – diagnosis. Keep going to work, keep doing your exercises, keep spending your time outdoors meeting your friends and family. Butbe a bit cautious with these activities.
While at work, you must avoid stressful activities since these can worsen your symptoms. Take short breaks in between and relax for a while to prevent being too worked up. Back home, you can indulge in yoga or meditation to keep your stress levels in check. While exercising, you can opt for any exercise of your choice like biking, cycling, jogging or swimming.
A moderate level of physical activity is recommended for individuals affected with cancer. However, if you do not feel well on some days or have symptoms like fatigue or nausea, it is relevant to skip exercising on that day. Also, choose the location of exercising carefully as exercising in public gyms can increase your risk of infections as cancer tends to lower your immune response. Opt to exercise in your home settings or a nearby park and get yourself tested and vaccinated regularly in order to prevent infections.
Preventing infections is important even while meeting your friends and family. Keep a sanitizer with yourself which you can use from time – to – time in addition to washing your hands regularly. When hanging out with friends and family, it is also important that you take care of your diet by avoiding saturated fats and spicy foods. Avoiding smoking and alcohol is another change that you need to make after your diagnosis for your health to improve. Also, keep in touch with your cancer group who will help you with support at each step of your diagnosis.
After receiving your diagnosis you will go through a lot of different emotions ranging from fear and worry to grief and helplessness, which is completely fine. After coping with these emotions, it is important to comply with your treatment course while also making necessary lifestyle changes. These include following a healthy diet and exercise schedule while also focusing on getting adequate sleep each day. If you plan on continuing to work after your diagnosis, it is important to manage stress levels by taking short breaks. Taking care of your skin and preventing infections is another important part of management after the diagnosis.
Author Bio: Dr. Garvita Arora is a qualified dental surgeon and an avid writer. With 500+ articles and medical blogs, she has written on a variety of topics. She has now collaborated with CancerBro as a guest writer and is immensely dedicated to her work.
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