Question: What Do We Do With A New Cancer Diagnosis?

Almost all of us know someone with cancer. In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates more than 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Even though these numbers are high, hearing the words “you have cancer” can come as a complete shock. Cancer can turn your life upside down and life will be forever changed.

There are ways to cope with the overwhelming news of a new cancer diagnosis. Connect with your medical team to understand your diagnosis. Your medical team consists of your doctor, nurse, oncology nurse navigator, social worker, dietician and other support staff. Understanding your diagnosis can empower you to make informed decisions about your treatment options and cope with your physical symptoms. Your medical team can help you find resources to cope with other issues such as the psychological, emotional, relational and practical challenges of a new cancer diagnosis.

Another practical way to cope with a new cancer diagnosis is to connect with family, friends and other cancer survivors. Keeping communication open will help ease your stress. If you need help finding ways to communicate your diagnosis with others, talk to your nurse navigator or social worker for suggestions. Consider a support group where others can help you during this journey. Seek out survivors’ stories of hope, because the wisdom around you may be much more than you know!

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Taking care of yourself is now your priority. You may be consumed with appointments, but try to maintain some normalcy in your day to day activities. Stay positive and let others help you. Take time to exercise even if it is just a short walk or stretching. Seek counseling if your fears and anxiety are interfering with your ability cope with your cancer diagnosis.

Remember you are NOT alone! We invite you to join us Tuesday, June 18, at 5 p.m. at Mission Hope Cancer Center Conference Room, 1325 East Church St., for an informational gathering about working through a cancer diagnosis. The Stephen Ministry Leaders of Bethel Lutheran Church will be introducing a valuable resource book: "Cancer: Now What?" The author, Dr. Kenneth Haugk, draws on extensive research of over 3,500 people and his own personal experience supporting his wife during her fight with cancer.

The book will be provided to attendees for the purpose of helping those with cancer and their loved ones with the medical, emotional, relational, and spiritual challenges that cancer brings. We will discuss topics such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, how to let others help you, reviewing goals and priorities, trying to maintain a normal routine, talking to others with cancer and how your diagnosis will impact your finances. Our goal is to help those struggling with cancer to find hope and reassurance.

Space is limited so please contact Marian Cancer Care at the Mission Hope Cancer Center to make reservations for this event or for any questions at 805-219-HOPE (4673). We look forward to seeing you June 18.

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HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by Marian Regional Medical center Cancer Program invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address: mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org.