What to Expect After Cancer Diagnosis
It’s not something you wish to hear at a doctor’s appointment. It can often feel like the end of the world with many complex emotions. You might feel scared, angry, guilty or confused. All of these emotions are completely normal after a cancer diagnosis.
You might also have several questions. What’s next? What kind of treatment is available? What does all the medical jargon mean? It can feel very overwhelming.
To ease these feelings of worry, here are some things to expect after a cancer diagnosis.
In order to reach your cancer diagnosis, you’re probably somewhat used to doctors and hospital appointments by now. This isn’t going to change going forward.
Staying in touch with your doctor or consultant is vital for recovery. While it might become repetitive and boring, don’t skip any appointments or check-ups, as these could provide valuable insight to your medical team. Try to plan something fun or relaxing after these appointments as something for yourself and something nice to look forward to.
The survival rate of many cancers has increased over the years thanks to the many treatments available. Your consultant will suggest what treatment they think is best for your type and stage of cancer, but if you have any concerns or worries, don’t hesitate to bring these up.
The type of treatment you can receive for cancer is varied. Some treatments, such as pills or hormone therapy, can be done at home. Other therapies, such as radiotherapy, must be done at the hospital. Your consultant will try to consider your preferences; however, they will always suggest the best treatment for your cancer.
While cancer treatments have progressed over the past few years, they’re still not perfect. Many come with side effects that can change the way you look. These changes can be challenging, so it’s best to prepare.
Some treatments can cause your weight to fluctuate. Others, like chemotherapy, can cause hair loss. Some surgeries will leave you with scars and permanent changes. These changes can cause low self-esteem and negative feelings. To cope with this, try and focus on what you can change. If you’re losing your hair, remember it will eventually grow back, but until then, experiment with wigs. If you’ve put on weight, treat yourself to new clothes. While these changes will take time to adjust to, there are many ways to boost your confidence.
Many cancer patients worry about their jobs. What does your diagnosis mean for you financially? Should you tell your work in the first place? What if you’re let go?
Cancer patients shouldn’t be worried about their jobs. There are laws in place to protect you – but you have to tell your employer of your diagnosis for these laws to take effect. Your employer is legally obligated to make reasonable adjustments and cannot fire you based on your diagnosis. For those that are self-employed, there is support for you.
Lastly, you should prepare yourself for negative feelings. You’ve probably already suffered from these feelings after getting your diagnosis. These feelings are completely natural – but you can’t let them consume you.
There are many online and offline support groups across the UK to help cancer patients. These groups are great for meeting people who understand what you’re going through and sharing stories for encouragement. For further support, look at activities such as journalling, art, and yoga, all proven to help mental health.
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can be scary, frustrating, upsetting and more. Preparing yourself for what’s to come is a great way to cope.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Surround yourself with encouraging, supportive people who help you find the strength to keep fighting.
You’ve got this.