Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis

There are an estimated 1.4 million new cancer cases diagnosed annually in the United States. For each person who personally finds out that they have breast cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer or any other type of cancer, there are many more family members and friends who will be touched by the news as well. Dealing with a cancer diagnosis can vary from person to person. How each individual handles this information can be affected by many factors and may even change from day to day.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you may want to think about how to talk to family and friends about your condition. No matter which way you handle telling, or not telling, people about your cancer, the decision is up to you. There is no right or wrong way. You may want to tell only a few people and then ask someone close to you to let others know so you don't have to keep repeating the same information.

You may find that Web sites or blogs designed for cancer patients are an easy way to update your medical information without having to spend hours on the phone talking to people. Or you can send out emails every few days to concerned friends to let them know if things change. Some information you may want to share is what kind of cancer you have, the treatments you have chosen and what your outlook is.

Let others know that you would appreciate their support and encouragement. When close friends ask to help, tell them if you need transportation to a doctor's appointment or help with shopping. Letting others do things for you actually may help them deal with your cancer diagnosis too. If people say things or ask questions that you are not prepared to answer, let them know you are choosing not to discuss it but that you appreciate their concern.

Family members and friends can be touched by cancer as well. If you know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, tell them that you are there for them and that you want to keep the lines of communication open. Sometimes they may not want to talk, but you can show your support by offering your loved one the opportunity to share their feelings and being there when they need assistance. Help them keep life as normal as possible and encourage them to still do activities that they enjoy. Try not to treat the person with cancer as an invalid when they are capable of doing things on their own.

As a caregiver, it is important for you to maintain your health so you can still help the person in treatment. Don't overdo things and ask understanding friends and other family members for help. Counseling and support group are available through local resources to help those coping with cancer.

For more information about cancer screenings, talk with your doctor or for a free physician referral to a specialist near you call 936-568-3289 / toll free 1-866-898-8446 or go to:

Telephone number for Loma Laird Cancer Center:  936-568-3541.