Coping and supportBy Mayo Clinic staff
A diagnosis of cancer can be overwhelming. With time you'll find ways to cope with the distress and uncertainty of cancer. Until then, you may find it helps to:
- Learn enough about your cancer to make decisions about your care. Find out more about your cancer in order to help you make treatment decisions. Ask your doctor for the type and stage of your cancer, as well as your treatment options and their side effects. Ask your doctor where you can go for more information. Good places to start include the National Cancer Institute and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
- Build a strong support system. Having a support system of close friends and family may help you cope. Though you may feel tempted to keep to yourself, be open with your loved ones. Friends will ask you if there's anything they can do to help you. Think of requests ahead of time, such as preparing meals or just being there to talk.
- Connect with other cancer survivors. Sometimes you'll feel as if your friends and family can't understand what you're going through. In these cases, other cancer survivors can offer support and practical information. You may also find you develop deep and lasting bonds with people who are going through the same things you are. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area. Or go to online message boards, such as those offered by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
- Set reasonable goals. Having goals helps you feel in control and can give you a sense of purpose. But don't choose goals you can't possibly reach. You may not be able to work a 40-hour week, for example, but you may be able to work at least part time. In fact, many people find that continuing to work can be helpful.
- Take time for yourself. Eating well, relaxing and getting enough rest can help combat the stress and fatigue of cancer. Also, plan ahead for when you may need to rest more or limit what you do.
- Stay active. Receiving a diagnosis of cancer doesn't mean you have to stop doing the things you enjoy or normally do. For the most part, if you feel well enough to do something, go ahead and do it. Stay involved as much as you can.
- Look for a connection to something beyond yourself. Having a strong faith or a sense of something greater than yourself may help you cope with having cancer. It may also help you maintain a more positive attitude as you face the challenge of cancer.
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