Being diagnosed with any cancer can be incredibly traumatic for both the mind and the body. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery might help you in the long run, but that doesn’t make it any easier for yourself or your family.
When you’re going through something as traumatic as cancer, it is important to remember that despite how it may feel, you are not alone.
There are plenty of people out there who want to support and help you. It is also important now more than ever to take some time for yourself and practice self-care.
Here are some of the ways you can cope with your diagnosis and make this experience less difficult.
Attend a support group
Because 1 in 2 people have cancer in their lifetime, there will definitely be cancer support groups in your local area. This is a chance for you to meet people in a similar situation as you. You’ll be able to relate to some of the shared fears, anxieties, and treatment struggles.
You can find details of a local support group by looking on the internet or social media. You might also find flyers in local community centres, libraries, coffee shops, or in your local paper.
Start seeing a therapist
Feeling anxious or depressed when a big life event happens is incredibly common, and going through a traumatic life event like cancer is no different.
If you speak to your doctor about how you’re feeling, they will probably be able to refer you to a local therapist who can help you.
Alternatively, you can find private therapists online. This is beneficial because you can avoid waiting times and find someone who specifically deals with issues like cancer. This will allow you to get more tailored treatment, which will be more beneficial to you. Although this might be expensive, it is worth the money because it will impact how you deal with this experience positively.
Either way, speaking to someone detached from the situation is useful because it can provide an outlet, away from family and friends, where you can speak freely.
Consider alternative treatment options
Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery might be too taxing. Or, a doctor might tell you that these treatments are not good options for you. You may also decide that you don’t want to move forward with these traditional medical treatments.
If any of these situations apply, then consider alternative methods that have become more popular within the past few years. For example, sufferers of mesothelioma are choosing an emerging treatment option that uses a version of the measles virus to kill cancer.
If you speak to your doctor, there are various clinical trials for cancer happening all the time. If you qualify for one, you may be permitted to participate in the trial.
Try a new hobby
By starting a new hobby, you will be able to keep your mind active and occupied, which can help distract you from feelings of anxiety and depression.
If you don’t have much energy, hobbies such as craft, knitting, and art will work well. These hobbies aren’t physically taxing, but they do require a lot of concentration, which makes for a well-suited distraction.
There are lots of resources out there like books, websites and video tutorials to help you get acquainted with your new hobby.
Make time for yourself
This won’t be an easy process, and when you’re sick, it can be hard to find time for yourself. Everyone in your life will want to be there for you, but sometimes you just need privacy. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and have alone time; this is your opportunity to reflect and sort through your feelings of the experience.
You should always remember that self-care and looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical health. Call a local therapist, join a support group, and consider your alternative options to conquer this battle with the support you need.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.