It is a terrible feeling to be diagnosed with cancer. At the initial stage, you feel overwhelmed and afraid; after a while, this leads to anxiety. Nonetheless, it is possible to stay positive and vibrant when you have just been diagnosed with the terminal illness.
You will experience five emotional stages after being diagnosed with cancer: Denial, Anger, Regret, Sadness, and Acceptance.
Here is how to cope at each stage:
The first stage
In the first stage, you are overwhelmed and shocked. You might even joke around, secretly wishing to return to previous realities. It is okay to live in denial, but prolonging this feeling for days or months can be detrimental to your health.
To help you deal with denial, ask the right questions about your situation. You can jot the questions down for the sake of clarity. Some vital inquiries that need answers are:
- What kind of cancer do I have?
- What are my chances of being cured?
- Can my cancer be treated?
- Has it spread?
- Do I need to do other tests and procedures to be certain?
- What are my treatment options?
Also, it is essential to talk with your friends and family about the situation. Denial leads to isolation, which is more destructive. Strength, courage, and confidence are examples of what you gain by communicating with your loved ones.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also help you deal with denial. Regular physical exercises keep your energy level up. However, forcing yourself into vigorous exercises is not necessary. Instead, opt for a healthy diet to reduce the stress and fatigue that comes with denial.
Anger, the second emotional stage, is common when dealing with grief. It becomes worse when you retreat into isolation and refuse to talk about your feelings. Surround yourself with relatives, friends and people going through (or that survived) similar experience.
Family and friends and family can help you with little chores, errands, take you to meet the doctor, and prepare meals. You only need to accept their love offering. In return, encourage them to accept your help.
After a while, your anger eventually gives way to regret. A prevailing thought at this stage is “if only I’d done this”. At this stage, people try to make vain promises to God praying that the situation can be overturned. Rather than a wish, decide on what’s most significant to you. Make time for those activities that are essential and are of the utmost meaning to you.
Also, discover new receptiveness with friends and family. Share your feelings and musings with them. Cancer influences the entirety of your relationships. Through communication, you can diminish the anxiety and dread caused by cancer.
Keep up your normal way of life; however, be open to small changes. Take it slow and steady. When stressed, people easily disregard this simple technique. Usually, when the future seems bleak, planning and organizing abruptly appears overwhelming.
Be aware of your finances. So many sudden budgetary burdens can emerge because of a cancer diagnosis. Treatment could demand that you take time away from work or even a long time away from home. Think about the extra expenses of drugs, clinical devices, treatment travels and parking charges at the hospital.
Most hospitals and clinics maintain records of resources to assist you monetarily during your treatment of cancer. Rather than regret and wish for things to return to normal, converse with your health care team on what to expect during treatment. Essential questions you should ask include:
- Will I need to be away from work?
- Will insurance cover the entire treatment?
- Will insurance cover my medication expenses?
- If my insurance won’t cover the treatment, is there any available help program?
- In what ways do my diagnosis influence life insurance?
In this regard, it is also good to speak with other patients. Individuals who haven’t encountered a cancer diagnosis can’t fully understand what you need or feel. On the other hand, survivors of cancer could share their knowledge and experience, thereby giving you insights into what to expect during treatment.
If you don’t know anyone who has gone through this process before, ask the doctor about the support groups around your vicinity. Contact any Cancer Support groups in your area.
Sadness and regret go together. It affects your sleeping patterns, energy levels, moods, and dietary patterns. Professional counselling at this stage might prove very helpful for you.
Sadness is influenced by some old stigmas related to cancer. Your companions may be concerned and think cancer is infectious. Associates may question if you’re sound enough to perform your responsibility, and others may pull back because they don’t want to say something inappropriate. Numerous individuals will have concerns.
Decide how you’ll manage other people’s attitude. Majorly, people will pick their cues from your behaviour. You have to remind them that even though cancer has been frightening for you, it should not make them hesitant to associate with you.
The fifth stage is about accepting the cancer diagnosis. Acceptance does not mean that you are free from grief. Rather, it means that you have accepted cancer as a reality. Although this is the last phase of cancer grief, it is possible to return to different stages.
To make sure you don’t relapse back to previous stages, it is best to build your coping strategies. Cancer patients are diagnosed and treated differently. As such, patients should learn to create their coping techniques. Some ideas to try out are:
- Practice techniques for relaxation.
- Tell your counsellor, spiritual adviser, relatives how you genuinely feel
- Keep a diary to help compose your contemplations.
- When confronted with hard choices, list the upsides and downsides for every decision.
- Find a wellspring of spiritual help.
- Create time to be alone.
- Engaged with work and relaxation exercises as much as possible.
The things that help comfort you through harsh times before the cancer diagnosis will probably help bring relief now. Regardless of whether it’s a favourite activity, a dear companion or a spiritual leader. Go to these solaces now, however, be open to attempting new coping methodologies.