By: Avery Phillips
Every day, thousands of Americans are diagnosed with one or more forms of cancer, and it can be an earth-shattering event that shakes families to the core. Time can make a major difference when you or a loved one receives this information, and the decisions you make over the next few weeks are likely to be a major turning point in how you choose to battle the disease. Many have survived, and even thrived, until remission. Knowing how to address cancer when it creeps into your life can help you keep your groove and make the most of a trying time.
The Initial Diagnosis
Breast screenings, annual health exams, mesothelioma screenings and even emergency visits due to odd pains or sensations can all lead to cancer diagnoses. Regardless of how you or a loved one got the news, choosing your reaction is important. You may have plenty of questions for the doctor, and that’s to be expected. Most specialists will walk you through the diagnosis and provide a prognosis that explains treatment options and how to best deal with this health situation.
Whether you are one of those most likely to develop mesothelioma and actively sought out a screening or were completely caught out of the blue by the development, it helps to avoid confrontation with the doctor and remain composed. Medical experts should give you time to cool down before bombarding you with information. If you simply can’t handle the way the doctor handles it or feel the diagnosis is wrong, get a second opinion.
What You Can Do
The doctor may have what seems like obvious advice, such as giving up smoking, or may propose a series of treatments that likely include medications and radiation or surgery. If you’re not the one receiving the diagnosis, try to be the level-headed friend or family member who can provide an impartial, if not unemotional, review of all the options. If tackling this advice yourself, take the time to write out all of your choices and decide how to tackle the treatment. Here’s where you will begin the process that will let you survive, if not thrive, during this period.
Looking Good to Feel Good
Talk with your doctor about how each option will affect your life. Chemotherapy and radiation techniques can dramatically impact your work and life balance, and physical changes such as hair loss may be a real risk. Consider donning makeup and hair weaves or wigs to help keep a positive outlook and ensure you feel the best you can. Maybe even find a Look Good Feel Better session in your area. Get a headscarf that matches your style or another accent for when you want to go out or visit friends. On those days you just can’t summon the energy to worry much about your looks, ask a trusted friend or family member if they can be your wing-girl and pamper you for the evening.
As your plan progresses, check with your doctor about advances in the field and even experimental treatments that may be available. Clinical trials have helped many people survive cancer, and the hope that treatment brings can mean as much as the treatment itself for your mental well-being. Whether it’s a new medicine, diet or even a laser that kills cancer cells, it’s important to find something that will help you keep fighting. Having an attitude that says you’re ready to kick cancer to the curb is always easier when you maintain hope.
There are even strategies for terminal diagnosis care when nothing else is working. Should your doctor, and maybe even a second opinion, declare that your status is terminal, that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. It means you should make the most of your time and do everything you feel you want and need to do. Keep a close eye on your symptoms and progression, and never fail to check in and ask about advances or additional options. Spend time with those who support you and maintain the attitude and strength that makes you who you’ve always been, even and especially when fighting the odds.
More and more people survive and thrive after a cancer diagnosis. Some even go through multiple cancers and come out on top, sharing their experiences with others. Maintain an attitude that shows failure isn’t an option and work with your caregivers (or your loved one) to keep as many options available as possible for your fight. Try to become one of the best examples of those who fought bravely and left nothing on the table. Never give up.