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5 Ways to Cope with a Cancer Diagnosis

October 06, 2023

Navigating the path to a cancer diagnosis is a challenging journey. It can be a roller coaster of emotions, as well as a period of uncertainty and fear. No one wants to receive a cancer diagnosis, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone on this journey. Here are five tips for coping with a cancer diagnosis.

1.) Understanding the Diagnosis

The first step to coping with a cancer diagnosis is to take the time to understand exactly what it is. Talk to your doctor about the type of cancer, the stage and the possible outcomes. Ask as many questions as possible to gain a better understanding of your situation. Additionally, researching the type of cancer you have can help you get a clearer picture of what you’re up against.

Learn about the cancer diagnosis and symptoms

Learn as much as you can about your diagnosis and treatment options. Ask your doctor to explain your diagnosis and treatment plan in detail.

You can also research, watch webinars and talk to other cancer survivors about their experience at credible websites such as The American Cancer Society’s website.

It's important to understand what to expect during and after treatment.

Research available treatments

No matter what type of cancer you are facing, our providers at Altru Cancer Center offer a full spectrum of cancer treatment options. While chemotherapy and radiation therapy are the most common types of cancer treatments, your provider may recommend other treatment options. Altru’s providers review each patient on an individual basis to develop a personalized and effective treatment plan. Learn more about cancer treatment options.

Ask your doctor questions about your diagnosis

Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions about your diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

2.) Connect with Support

A group of people attending a cancer support group.

​The next step is to find emotional and practical support. Reach out to family, friends and colleagues to help you through this difficult time. Consider joining a support group or online forum to connect with people in similar positions. Additionally, there are numerous organizations and charities dedicated to providing resources and support for those dealing with cancer.

Utilize support groups

Altru Cancer Center Patient Navigators can work with you to determine your individual and family needs and connect you with the best resources that can help as you adjust and move through your cancer treatment journey. Our team can connect you with referrals to social resources including support groups and connect you with other assistance including financial programs, counseling, personal care assistance and more.

Communicate with your family and friends

Talk to them about your diagnosis and how it makes you feel. Let them know what kind of support you need from them. They may be able to help with emotional support or practical help such as running errands or providing a shoulder to cry on. Ask them to check in on you periodically and offer to do the same for them.

3.) Staying Positive

Staying positive is essential for coping with a cancer diagnosis. Try to focus on the things you can do and the progress you are making. Take time to do things that make you feel good, such as listening to music, spending time with friends and engaging in activities that bring you joy. Additionally, try to keep yourself busy and focused on the present moment.

Practice self-compassion

Self-compassion can help you cope with difficult emotions, reduce stress and enhance your well-being. To practice self-compassion, one can use positive self-talk, acknowledge your feelings without judgment, and remember that one is not alone in experiencing hardship. Self-compassion is not selfish or indulgent; rather, it is a way of honoring and caring for oneself.

Find ways to cope

Find ways to express yourself through writing, drawing or other hobbies. Connect with a cancer support group to share your story and learn from others.

4.) Take Care of Yourself

A man laughing on a tennis court.

Make healthy lifestyle changes

Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep are all important for your physical and mental health. Avoiding smoking, excessive drinking and processed foods can help reduce your risk of diseases. Talk to your doctor about any lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your cancer or improve your quality of life.

Eat a balanced diet

Eating well is important for anyone with a cancer diagnosis. Eating a nutritious diet can help keep your body strong and provide energy for treatments and other activities. Altru’s Cancer Center has a dietitian on staff that can meet with patients as needed to provide guidance on a well-rounded and balance diet throughout your treatment plan.

Establish a healthy exercise routine

Look into relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga or meditation to help deal with stress and anxiety. Try to stay active by taking walks, joining a gym or doing other activities that you enjoy.

5.) Seeking Help

​Seek support from family, friends and support groups

​​It is important to remember that you are not alone in your fight against cancer. Reach out to family, friends and support groups to help you through this difficult time. Talking to someone who has gone through the same experience can be especially helpful. Your doctor or nurse can also provide resources to help you find a support group.

Seek professional help

A patient and medical professional holing hands.

Finally, don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional. Talking to a counselor or therapist can help you process your emotions and provide insights into how to cope. Altru offers a wide variety of support services for patients and families dealing with cancer. Take advantage of these resources to help you on your journey. Our team of experts at Altru are here to support you as you navigate the path of a cancer diagnosis. We recognize that cancer can impact your entire body including your physical, mental and emotional health. Altru Cancer Center Patient Navigators are available to assist patients and families throughout this process.

If you have any questions about our support services at Altru Cancer Center, please call us at 701.780.5400.


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