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Facing a cancer diagnosis is a challenge that no one should have to face alone. When you are told you have cancer, the diagnosis affects you and your family and friends. No one handles a cancer diagnosis in the same way. After you find out you have cancer, you may feel afraid, anxious, angry or overwhelmed. You may even feel numb or confused. It might be hard to listen to what the doctor is saying or remember what people tell you to do. You probably have many questions and may not know where to begin or how to cope. Your own personal beliefs and experiences will help you face the disease and figure out how to handle it.
Shock - No one is ever ready to hear the words, "You have cancer." It is normal to question why cancer happened to you and think that it is unfair. There is nothing fair about cancer and no one deserves to have cancer. Accepting the cancer diagnosis and figuring out how to cope with and treat your cancer can be difficult.
Disbelief - You may not even believe your diagnosis, especially if you do not feel sick. You may want to get a second opinion and talk with other people who have been diagnosed with cancer to find out how they dealt with the news of their diagnosis.
Fear - You may be scared. Scared of the cancer treatments, scared of the pain and suffering or scared of what the cancer will do to your body. You may fear unwanted changes to you and your loved ones' lives. You might even be scared of the cancer itself.
Anger - You might be so frustrated with your diagnosis and stressed by the changes cancer will bring to your life that you lash out at family, friends or even the doctors and nurses.
Hopelessness - Cancer can be so overwhelming that you may feel at a total loss for what to do next. You may have trouble seeing past your future with cancer to a life of health and happiness. It might seem impossible to maintain a positive attitude. The treatment plan might seem like too much to deal with and you might feel uncertain that you will stay strong and fight the disease.
Guilt - You might question what you could have done differently to prevent cancer. You may wonder if you could have noticed symptoms earlier. You might feel guilty that your loved ones will have to deal with your cancer and the challenging treatments that you will undergo.
Depression - Cancer affects not only your body, but your mind too. You may begin to have trouble sleeping, feel sad all the time and grow increasingly anxious or panicked. The way you see yourself—your body, mind, and spirit—might change and you could feel a deep sense of grief at losing who you were before cancer. Confiding in a close friend can help you cope. If you do not have someone to turn to and share your feelings with, you might want to see a mental health professional.
The more you know about your type of cancer, your treatment options and your chances for recovery, the better equipped you will be to deal with the fear, confusion, and anxiety you are probably feeling. You must be your own advocate and seek out the most innovative, current and impactful treatment options. Educating yourself about your cancer and creating a support network of family, friends, and a personalized health care team can help you take control of your situation and make informed decisions.
Mayo Clinic - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-diagnosis/HQ01306
American Cancer Society - http://www.cancer.org/docroot/MBC/content/MBC_4_1X_The_Emotional_Impact_of_A_Cancer_Diagnosis.asp
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