When you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the physical and emotional stress of this challenging disease begins almost immediately. Emotions take control, which inhibits decision-making at a critical time. More specifically, a time when you are expected to make life-altering decisions about an unfamiliar subject matter – all while navigating a complex and fragmented healthcare system.
You are faced with overwhelming amounts of information, including cancer treatment options, specialists, and tests.
This unfamiliarity that comes with being diagnosed with cancer can cause feelings of fear, uncertainty, and dread – all of which are distractions from your cancer care and detrimental to your emotional well-being.
The first step after being diagnosed with cancer? Take a breath.
Steps to Take After Being Diagnosed with Cancer
Realize that you have choices. You can stop the conveyor belt that starts immediately after diagnosis long enough to gain your footing. Here are 5 steps to successfully navigating this uncharted territory:
1. Take Time To Consider What is Most Important To You
- Do you want to stay close to family and friends as you undergo treatment or pursue treatment at a larger cancer center?
- What side effects are you willing to endure and what would you rather avoid?
- Are you interested in pursuing complementary treatments?
- What characteristics are most important to you in your healthcare provider?
- Do you get energy from sharing with others or are you more prone to minimal sharing with a close circle of friends/ family?
2. Educate Yourself About Your Disease
- Ask your healthcare provider for trusted resources, websites
- What stage/ grade is my disease?
- What are the treatment options for cancer like mine?
- Is my cancer rare?
- Has genomic testing been ordered for my tumor?
- Would it be reassuring to have someone with expertise help you flatten your learning curve?
- In gathering information be careful not to adopt other people’s “cancer story” for yourself
3. Assemble your Healthcare Team
- Do you need the expertise of a specialist?
- Do you feel seen and heard by the staff/nurses/physicians?
- How far are you willing to travel for treatment?
- Does the office respect your time?
4. Gather your supportive resources
- Identify the gifts and talents of your friends and family and let them help you with the tasks they are best suited to
- Locate local support groups and/or connect with an oncology social worker
- Let your insurance agent, CPA, and/or financial planner know about your diagnosis
5. Communicate Your Wishes
- Share your desires with family members
- Utilize this opportunity to ensure all family members have advanced directives in place
As your private patient navigator, I can help you alongside your cancer journey. Contact me for a complimentary consultation.