Receiving a lung cancer diagnosis is inevitably a very overwhelming and emotionally charged moment. Every person reacts differently upon being informed they are suffering from a malignant disease. While some people report feeling completely shocked, numb and unable to take in all the information the doctor provided them with due to the profound impact of the news, others experienced strong emotions such as anger, fear or desperation. Regardless of how you received the news, it is important to remember that your feelings were absolutely appropriate for such a difficult situation.
Nevertheless, struggling with cancer can be accompanied by uncertainty, anxiety, disbelief or anger at any point throughout your journey and therefore, it is crucial to understand your emotions so that you will be able to make the wisest decisions in regards to your treatment. Because battling lung cancer can be extremely challenging and exhausting, especially in the beginning, we have compiled a list of useful tips which will hopefully help you cope with your diagnosis and reach out to your close ones for support.
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Take Time to Adjust to Your Lung Cancer Diagnosis
You may continue to feel overwhelmed, stressed, confused, scared and unable to think clearly for several days after you find out about your illness. Nowadays, lung cancer is widely known as a very serious disease with devastating health implications and you probably know someone who has struggled with it as well. Therefore, feeling anxious regarding your prognosis, how your diagnosis might affect various aspects of your life and how your loved ones will react is perfectly normal.
Most people need time to fully realize and start accepting what is happening to them, so you should not feel pressured to act right away. Take as much time as you need to reevaluate your life and priorities, understand your diagnosis and treatment options, and decide whether you would like to tell your family and friends about your suffering from lung cancer.
Research Your Diagnosis and Treatment Options Thoroughly
Learning as much as you can about your diagnosis and extensively researching what treatments might be available and effective for you do not only bring about practical benefits but can also help improve your mental state significantly. Educating yourself in regards to how lung cancer affects your body, the specifics of your disease (the stage of cancer, whether it has metastasized or not etc.) and the treatment approaches which might be recommended for your particular case will most likely give you a sense of control and will help you focus on the aspects you can actively change.
It is highly recommended to not limit your research to a single type of resources. Vital information can be found in a wide variety of places, including websites, books, medical studies, hospitals and medical centers in your area, your physician, oncologists, as well as cancer research centers. By accessing multiple different educational resources, you will gain a thorough perspective about what your diagnosis entails and learn what treatment options might improve your prognosis or even cure your lung cancer.
Decide Who You Are Going to Tell and How
Cancer will undoubtedly affect family dynamics, roles, and routines, as well as your relationship with close friends. However, reaching out to your family members and friends will provide you with the emotional support you need in order to cope with your diagnosis more efficiently. If you decided to reveal your diagnosis and seek emotional support, you should only do it when you are completely comfortable and ready.
There is no right or wrong way to inform your loved ones about your lung cancer. What details you choose to disclose is an individual decision and how you will share the news should solely depend on your relationship with your family. You might feel more comfortable telling several people at once or, on the contrary, talking with one family member or friend who could subsequently announce the others.
Social and emotional support is incredibly beneficial and will greatly alleviate your anxiety and stress. Do not be afraid to suggest concrete, practical ways your family can help you, as they will most likely feel overwhelmed and at a loss about what to do upon hearing the news. Asking for specific things such as a drive to the hospital for an appointment will greatly relieve their feelings of powerlessness and your family will certainly be glad to provide you with what you need. Additionally, you can guide your close ones towards educational resources which will help them understand your diagnosis better.
Focus on What You Can Control
Intense emotions, conflicting feelings and mood swings are very common and may affect your ability to cope with your diagnosis and adapt to the changes your lifestyle has suffered. You might feel angry and frustrated with the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy, because you can no longer pursue your passions or because you are unable to perform even simple daily tasks due to low energy levels. Nevertheless, while you are entitled to feel this way, focusing on what you cannot do will only fuel your negative feelings. Instead, you may find it helpful to concentrate on the aspects you can control.
Exercising, maintaining a healthy diet and developing a new routine can make you feel in control. If your health condition allows it, your doctor will provide you with a mild exercise program. Physical activities which are not very demanding, such as swimming, walking or yoga, might be suitable to you and performing them on a regular basis can significantly improve your quality of life. Similarly, you can also improve your eating habits by opting for healthy foods and taking into consideration your doctor’s advice if you have dietary restrictions related to your lung cancer. Sticking to a routine can help as well. If you and your family or friends have certain activities you used to do on a regular basis prior to your diagnosis, continuing to engage in them throughout your treatment will undoubtedly contribute to a feeling of normality.
Choose Your Oncologist Carefully
Finding the right doctor is crucial for your prognosis. A board certified oncologist with a vast experience in lung cancer is generally the best option, as they are generally up-to-date with the most recent treatment options and will thereby be able to guide you towards the most effective approach. Take your time and research what specialists are available in your area. You should focus on objective information such as how long they have been practicing medicine, whether they are board certified if there are any marks against their license, as well as whether they had any malpractice losses.
Our website provides a database of nearly 6,000 doctors and specialists. Numerous patients want to find a local oncologist, radiologist or surgeon, particularly if their symptoms are severe and prevent them from traveling. This is why MesotheliomaDR.com allows you to search by ZIP code. You can thus easily find out basic information about all cancer specialists in your area and be able to make a well-informed decision.
Ask for a Second Opinion
Although you believe you found the right oncologist and are highly satisfied with their medical services, looking for a second opinion is a very good idea, especially when it comes to serious diseases such as lung cancer. It is very common to get a second or even a third opinion and if you are afraid your doctor might feel offended, you should not be. The majority of oncologists expect you to discuss your diagnosis and be re-evaluated by other specialists as well.
However, it is very important to opt for a medical professional who is not affiliated with the same hospital as your first oncologist in order to make sure you will be provided with an objective and reliable opinion. Research is essential once again and you should also look for a highly experienced, board certified specialist who has treated a relevant number of lung cancer patients.