Knowing that you have breast cancer is an extremely difficult experience to anyone. After you are diagnosed, you may feel afraid, anxious and overwhelmed and wonder how you are going to live your life in the days ahead. Here are some suggestions from a certified oncologist in Singapore.
1. Get the Facts Straight
During your next visit to the cancer center, try to get as much information as you can about your diagnosis in order to make decisions about the right healthcare for you. Write down the questions and concerns you have and bring them with you the next time you visit your oncologist. Consider including these questions to your list:
• What exactly is the kind of cancer I have?
• Where is it located?
• Has it spread to other parts of the body?
• Can it be treated?
• What is the chance for it to be cured?
• What procedures and tests do I need?
• How will the procedure help my treatment?
• What side effect to expect during the treatment?
• Is it possible for my children to get cancer?
Bring a family member or a close friend with you to help you remember the answers to your questions. Also, think about how much you want to know about your case. Some patients want to know every bit of detail from a good oncologist in Singapore so they are fully aware of their health and get involved with the entire process. Other cancer patients prefer to know the basics and leave the decision-making to their healthcare providers. Ponder what approach you think is best for you, and let your specialist know about it.
2. Keep the Communication Lines Open
Be honest and maintain a healthy communication line with your loved ones, friends and specialist after a diagnosis. If you or the people around you are trying to put up a strong facade or your loved ones try to protect you from any bad news about your health, you will only feel isolated and alone. Express your emotions honestly and encourage the people around you to do the same, so you can all find inspiration and strength from each other.
3. Let Your Family and Friends Help You
Your family and friends are more than happy to assist you. Let them drive for you, run errands, prepare your meals and help you with chores. Willingly accept their help. Accepting assistance gives the people around you a sense of fulfilment for contributing something during difficult times.
Likewise, encourage everyone in your family to accept help when needed. Cancer diagnosis affects the entire family emotionally and physically, especially to the primary caregivers of the cancer patient. Accepting help from friends and neighbours goes a long way in preventing physical and emotional breakdowns.
4. Consider the Financial Impact
Unexpected financial problems may arise due to chemotherapy and other treatments necessary after a cancer diagnosis. Your breast cancer treatment may require some time away from work or extended period of time in the hospital. Consider the costs for medical devices and medications, travelling for treatments and hospital parking fees.
This is why many oncology clinics in Singapore keep a list of resources to financially help patients during and after treatments. Discuss with your healthcare providers about your options.
5. Fight Stigmas
Some stigmas about cancer still exist in today’s generation. The people around you may wonder whether it’s contagious, colleagues may doubt whether you’re still fit to work and some people may be distant for the fear of saying the wrong things.
Understand the situation and determine how to deal with other people’s behaviour towards you. Most likely, people will take the cue from you. Remind them that even if cancer is one of the fearful things that have ever happened in your life, it should not make them fear to be around you.
6. Talk to Other Cancer Patients
Sometimes, it feels like people who have not experienced getting diagnosed with cancer cannot fully understand how you feel. It helps to talk to patients who are in the same journey. Other cancer patients and survivors can share experiences and give insights into what to expect during a treatment.
You can talk to a family member or a friend who has or once had cancer, or connect with other survivors and patients through support groups. Your cancer center is aware of the support groups in your area, so make sure to ask.
7. Develop Your Own Coping Technique
Like how cancer treatments are individualized, coping strategy is also unique for every patient. Some of the ideas you can try are:
• Practicing relaxation strategies
• Honestly sharing your feelings and thoughts with your family and/or adviser
• Keeping a journal to organize and vent out your thoughts
• Finding a source of emotional and spiritual support
• Setting aside some alone time
• Keeping up with your work and leisurely activities as much as your body allows.
What comforts you through the rough times before you were diagnosed with breast cancer are likely the things that will help ease your worries about your condition now, whether that’s talking to a friend or doing a favourite activity. Turn to these comforts, but also try other coping strategies.
The key to coping with cancer diagnosis is just to be open to other people and accept what they have to offer to make your condition easier. Whether the cancer is in its early or advanced stage, you want to maintain your quality of life and to be as happy and lively as you can.