How to Cope When You Find out You Have Cancer or Heart Disease
A diagnosis of cancer or heart disease may seem like the end. But in reality, it’s just the beginning of your journey. Don’t let the news keep you from coping. Here are five steps to take in dealing with a diagnosis—so that you can prepare for the fight ahead:
Gather information. People tend to be scared of the unknown, so learning as much as you can about your condition may help allay your fears. A wealth of knowledge is online. Just be careful to seek out reputable sources. BaylorHealth.com has a comprehensive health encyclopedia, and for condition-specific information the American Cancer Society (cancer.org) and the American Heart Association (americanheart.org) are good places to start. When in doubt about anything you read online, talk to your doctor.
Take time to think. Some cases of cancer and heart disease require immediate treatment. But for the most part, it won’t hurt to take a few days to think about your options and talk them over with your loved ones and your physician. Feeling comfortable with your course of treatment is important to your recovery. If you don’t understand your options or what’s involved, ask your doctor to explain things in terms that make sense to you.
Ask for help. Turn to your family and friends. They may not automatically know what to do for you, so be specific about your needs and ask for assistance. If you still have trouble reaching out, carry with you a list of items that you’d like help with. The next time someone offers, pull out your list and tell him or her what you need—whether it’s picking up the kids while you’re at the doctor, helping plan meals during treatment or being available to talk on Saturday.
Seek support. No matter how caring your family and friends are, at some point, you may want to talk to someone who has “been there.” A support group can be comforting, as you’ll be able to connect with others who know best what you’re going through. To find a support group at a Baylor Health Care System facility near you, search here.
Take care of yourself. A serious diagnosis comes with a lot of emotions and changes in your routine. It’s essential that you continue to care for yourself by fitting in time for regular physical activity, eating healthy meals and relaxing. Talk to your doctor about putting together a safe and effective exercise plan.
For a referral to a physician on the medical staff at a Baylor Health Care System hospital near you, call 1.800.4BAYLOR or search online.
Source: Much of this info was inspired by the American Cancer Society and its website.