It’s the word we hope we’ll never hear our doctor say. But, if this is your new reality, know that there are many things that you can do to not only better cope with your diagnosis, but aid in your mental wellbeing throughout your treatment process.
Here are some tips and strategies as you begin to cope with cancer.
Take as much time as you need
We can’t stress this enough. When something like this happens, every person responds differently. If you’re someone who processes internally, it’s totally fine to not want to talk about it immediately. Emotions are high. The shock, fear, and anger you may be feeling are totally normal. It’s OK. If you need extra space, take it.
As you begin to cope, you may find that educating yourself is a good way to ease your fears and anxieties. Talk to your oncologist about resources to help inform you of what steps will happen next in your treatment. If you feel up to it, consider passing along this knowledge to your family, friends, and caregivers. They, too, will want to know what you have learned so they can help you through your treatment process.
Do things that you love to do. Cook. Paint. Read. Go out to eat with friends. Have a date night with a significant person in your life. Try some light exercise. Pick up a new hobby. If you are a spiritual person, embrace your personal prayer time or meditate. If you enjoy journaling, consider writing or doodling. Whatever it is that you find therapeutic or enjoyable, make time to do those things.
Express Your Emotions
Just because you’re dealing with an unexpected twist doesn’t mean that everything has to be negative and scary all the time. It’s OK (and important) to laugh and have fun when you can! Watch a funny movie or spend time with that friend whose company you always enjoy. Of course, the reverse is true as well. If you feel the need to cry and just let it all out, do that too. Express your emotions as you need to.
Ask for help…
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. It’s OK to not be able to do everything alone. Your friends and family want to help you during this time and asking for assistance on even small tasks like running errands or helping with meals will give them an opportunity to show how much they care.
… But do what you can
Of course, if you’re feeling up to running some of those errands or cooking some of those meals yourself, by all means, do so! Keeping a daily routine can be incredibly helpful through your treatment process. Also, take things one day at a time. You may find coping to be less daunting if you look at it in smaller timeframes, like a single day.
Talk it out
One of the most important things you can do in your care process is to find someone you can talk to about your treatment and your emotions. Talking with family members or close friends can be extremely beneficial. You may also want to find professional support, whether that’s through a support group, a counselor, or a therapist.
The best coping strategy, however, may be this — focus on what you can control. Your emotions will rise and fall; by expressing what you’re feeling you’ll feel less overwhelmed and more in control.
If you need help with any of these coping strategies — or wish to learn more about your upcoming cancer treatment — please, reach out to your care provider. We are here to help.