Coping skills for patients
It is easier to face the reality of a new or scary situation if you learn as much as you can about it and that certainly holds true with a complex group of diseases like cancer. There is a great fear of the unknown and uncertainty of the outcome. Knowledge can help lessen the fear of the unknown. There is much to learn about each type of cancer and its treatment, possibility for recovery, and rehabilitation. Be your own advocate.
Although people facing cancer cannot change their diagnosis, they can seek out reliable and up-to-date information and talk to family members, friends, and their health care team. Actively identifying sources of support can help people with cancer take control of their situation and make informed decisions.
It’s important to work through your feelings about cancer, because how you feel can change how you look at yourself, how you view life, and what decisions you make about treatment.
To make your medical appointments as useful as possible, try these suggestions:
- Make a list of questions to ask your health care team.
- Bring a family member or friend along to appointments with your doctor or your cancer care team. They can serve as an extra pair of ears and support.
- Ask if important conversations can be tape-recorded.
- Take notes. If someone uses an unfamiliar word, ask them to spell it.
- Ask your health care team to explain things when you don’t understand.
You will not be able to change everything in your life. Focus on what you can change in order to gain a greater sense of control over your situation.
Other things you can do to deal with your emotions:
- Ask for support from family, friends, and others. Just having someone who cares and can listen to you can be very helpful. If friends or family members are not able to provide support, find others who can. Health care professionals, such as social workers, psychologists, or other licensed health professionals, and support groups are additional sources of support.
- Pay attention to your needs for rest, nutrition, and other self-care measures.
- Find ways to appropriately express your feelings, such as talking or writing in a journal.
- Allow yourself private time and space.
- Walk or exercise. It is a good idea to talk with your cancer care team about your plans before starting a new exercise programme or sport.
- Find out what helped other patients and families cope with cancer, and/or talk with other people diagnosed with the same type of cancer.
- Make changes at home to create a healthier environment, and/or talk with your doctor about making healthy lifestyle choices.
If you feel sad all the time, are having trouble sleeping or thoughts of suicide, these are signs that professional help is needed. Other symptoms that may require treatment include feelings of panic, intense anxiety, or crying constantly. If you think you might need professional help, talk with your doctor.