Newly Diagnosed with Cancer? Where do you go from here? Part I
A diagnosis of cancer can be overwhelming to deal with. We offer some pointers to help you in this three part blog series.
Start a notebook, binder or take notes on your computer or phone
From the outset, try to stay organized
Write down your questions as they arise in your mind – and you will have many!
Keep records of your medical history including allergic reactions, copies of laboratory reports, pathology findings, and copies of radiological exams (CDs of MRIs, CT scans, etc)
Keep a timeline of events, especially medicines, when started and stopped (dates and doses if possible), and include any allergic reactions
Prepare a list of contacts: family, friends, caregivers, emergency phones, etc
Designate an ally (health surrogate/coach), ideally 1 or at most 2 individuals
Bring your ally to meetings with caregivers, have him/her take notes, etc, listen, ask questions, remember details of conversations so that you can focus and comprehend what your caregivers are telling you.
Pay attention to your emotional health – this is more important than you might think
Find a support group
Maintain a purpose in life; give of yourself to others; express gratitude, love, forgiveness (shed old grudges), learn to say sorry
Determine who and when you can ask tough questions to e.g. who is comfortable talking to you about mortality
Strive to make peace with your mortality (not easy but critical to enjoying life with or without cancer). Try to achieve this attitude and yet live with the hope that you will be cured, a balancing act worth striving for
Find ways to maintain a positive attitude – living in the present, having a purpose in life, helping others in what you do best, and so on
Control stress - through exercise, meditation, yoga, tai-chi, etc. - whatever might work for you
Develop faith in a larger entity (God if that is the word you wish to use), if that suits your personality
More to come in Part II.