Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a mind-numbing and overwhelming experience. In an instant, your life has changed. It's hard to know what to do next.
You are not alone in this experience. Many of us at Women’s Cancer Action have been where you are right now. The best thing you can do for yourself is take a deep breath. Nothing is so immediate that you can’t take a day or two to collect your thoughts.
When you are ready, talk to others who have been diagnosed, do your research, take time to find the treatment facility and medical professionals that are right for you.
And, when you do, WCA has a few tips for making this journey a little easier:
Get a second opinion. Doctors approach the same cancer in different ways. It’s your body; you have the right to ask more than one expert. In fact, many medical professionals encourage second opinions.
Get organized. You will have a lot of information to track. Get a notebook or file to keep on top of notes from your doctor’s appointment, advice from others living with cancer, directions for medications, insurance information, etc.
Never go to a doctor’s appointment alone. Take a family member or friend with you to appointments. Others can ‘hear’ things you may not be able to hear or remember. If you can’t take a person, take a tape recorder so you can refer back to what was said when you get home. Or, ask your doctor if he/she can provide notes from your meeting -- some doctors will do this if you ask.
Bring a list of questions to your doctor’s appointments. It is easy to forget what you meant to ask if you don’t. Write the doctor’s answers down after the question in your notebook. No question is ‘too dumb’ to ask. And, if you need to clarify what a doctor has said, don’t be afraid to ask them to explain until you understand.
Always give yourself time to make decisions. Doctors will sometimes rush you into making a decision. Generally speaking, there is nothing so life-threatening that you don’t have a night to sleep on it and ensure that you are comfortable with the decisions you make.
Ask for help. Not only do you need help, but people really want to give help. Helping makes people feel like they can ‘do something’ and also makes them feel like they can show their love for you.
Be good to yourself. This list could go on and on forever. It includes saying no and asking for help, but it also includes doing what you want to do when you want to do it.
Links We Like
Cancer and the Environment
Children and Environment
Financial and Legal Information
Personal Care Products
Safe Household Products
Health Care Policy and Prevention