Shock, fear, anger and helplessness are the typical responses to hearing that you have been diagnosed with cancer. In the United States 1out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. However, due to advancements in science and medicine this is not necessarily a death sentence. In fact today there are an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the US and that number is projected to increase to 20 million in 2026.
Even as more and more Americans are “living” with cancer the fear of the initial diagnosis is often overwhelming and leaves the person with a sense of dread and uncertainty of what to do next.
Immediate next steps to take upon learning that “you have cancer”
- Secure a second or third pair of ears. Have someone accompany you on follow-up appointments to ensure you receive and retain the information you will need to make good decisions as to what to do next. Ask questions.
- Research and gather information. What are the treatment options for your type of cancer? Are there clinical trials available? Who are the experts for my type of cancer and where are they located? The Internet is a useful tool, however, it is not regulated, be critical of the sources you use.
- Choose your healthcare team. Depending on the type of cancer you have, you may or may not need an oncologist (cancer specialist) For example; dermatologists successfully treat many skin cancers. If you do require a follow up with an oncologist, there are 3 types and you may need to see one or all 3. Surgical oncologists treat the cancer with surgical intervention. Radiation oncologists utilize radiation-type modalities to treat the cancer and Medical oncologists treat cancer with medicines that may include regimens utilizing chemotherapy and/or targeted biologic therapies.
Choose your team carefully. They will most likely be a part of your life for the next 5 years.
- Find emotional support. Assemble a network of family, friends and community resources to help you manage emotional, practical and financial issues.
Information and knowledge are the most powerful tools to have as you plan and prepare for your individual journey. Do not be afraid to turn to outside support for assistance in filling informational gaps. Help is a phone call away. For an initial 30-minute consultation contact us at 703-403-7600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.