What’s Next After a Cancer Diagnosis: Here’s What You Need to Do

cancer patient talking to doctor

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and around the world. In 2012, 14.1 million people were diagnosed with cancer. Despite advancements in treatment, 8.2 million people cancer-related deaths were recorded worldwide that year.

Cancer is a serious illness that needs immediate medical attention. However, it is not a death sentence. Millions of Americans have been diagnosed and have beaten cancers.

How is Cancer Diagnosed?

If your doctor has noticed something unusual, they may ask you to undergo a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure where a piece of tissue or a sample of cells are extracted from the patient’s body. This will be sent out to a laboratory to assess whether the patient has cancer. For example, if your doctor wants a closer look at an area of your skin, they may use a punch biopsy instrument to remove a small section.

Sometimes, tests are performed on the proteins, DNA, and RNA of the cells to see if there is anything out of the usual.

Understanding the Situation

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be frightening. Patients often go through a “shock phase” which is completely normal.

However, you should not let the bad news overwhelm you. You need to immediately take control of the situation and learn everything you need to know about your illness. Where is it located and how much has it grown? Did it start spreading to other parts of your body? Your doctor will also discuss your treatment options, survival rate, and side effects.

Knowing the enemy will help you prepare for the upcoming battle. But, for some people, absorbing too much information right away may not be very helpful. Take things one step at a time. Learn what you need to know and save some of your questions later on.

Surround Yourself with a Support Group

cancer support groupThe next step would be to tell your family and friends. This is not necessary and you do not have to tell everybody right away. However, having a support group cheering you on will make the situation a little less like an insurmountable mountain.

If you are not yet ready to tell your loved ones or you do not have anyone to lean on, there are local support groups where people who have been diagnosed with cancer convene. They share their own journey, fears, difficulties to people who are going through the same challenges.

Speak with a Psychologist

Getting a cancer diagnosis is terrifying. Speaking to a mental health specialist will help you cope with the diagnosis and navigate the situation rationally.

Unfortunately, knowing that you have cancer can severely affect your mental health. Many people who have received a diagnosis or being treated with cancer experience depression. Talk to your therapist about your worries and concerns.

Strive to be Healthy

You are about to go through a tough fight. Prepare yourself by taking care of your health.

Start by eating a balanced and healthy diet, exercise regularly, and sleep for about seven to nine hours every night. This will strengthen your body and give you the energy you need to defeat the illness.

Getting a cancer diagnosis is not the end of the world. You can fight the illness. You are not alone in this. Your doctor and loved ones will be with you throughout the entire process.

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