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A Primer for Coping with Diagnosis

Posted 6/15/2015

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  On this wet Monday, I am spending a little time trying to clean up both my paper files and my online files. This is an electronic one that seems worth sharing. From Oncolink, it is an excellent summary of the primary issues and stresses facing new diagnosed cancer patients. Before getting to it, let me add something important: the early days, those between diagnosis or even a suspected diagnosis, and beginning treatment are as tough as it ever gets psychologically. Everyone feels better once there is a plan and a treatment has begun. The not knowing is the worst.

  We also know from crisis theory that one can only sustain a high level of distress for about six weeks. That often coincides with this difficult period of meeting with doctors, having tests, waiting for results, often having surgery and awaiting the pathology report. Once all that is done and a plan is made, everyone finds it a bit easier to settle down and move forward.

  Here is the start and a link:

􀀑 Coping With A Cancer Diagnosis

This article addresses some common concerns people face when first hearing a cancer diagnosis, while going through treatment and into survivorship.

How do I talk to friends & family about my diagnosis?
Speaking with family and friends may seem scary but remember that if you don't share with them what is going on or how you are feeling then those people cannot provide you support. Start out by confiding in a few people who you are very close to- family or friends. Tell them whatever you are comfortable sharing. It does not have to be a long discussion.

If you need help with this, an Oncology Social Worker can help get some ideas about how to get started. Joining a support group is another way to gain ideas from others about how to get feel more at ease with sharing.

How do I talk to my children about my diagnosis?
The first step for any family is to talk with your children. Ask them what they know about what is happening with their parent, what questions they have, and what some of their fears/thoughts may be. Don't be surprised if their thoughts seem self-centered, this is very normal, particularly for younger children. They want to understand how this will affect them. Be honest in answering this – maybe it will be harder to spend time as a family, but assure them you will do your best to support the whole family.

Secondly, be sure to talk to your children's school/teachers about what is happening with your wife. Teachers are VERY savvy to subtle behavior changes or performance changes that may be coming about due to a family member's diagnosis and treatment.

Third, enlist the help of your extended family, friends, community and church supports to take turns with things like babysitting or maybe taking the kids to a special event. It's important to help your children maintain as much normalcy to their lives despite the massive disruption and changes posed by a cancer diagnosis. This is where extra persons can help you get your kids to their band concert or soccer practice.

Locally, talk with the oncology team, in particular, an oncology social worker, who can help you with local resources that may be available. Learn more about talking to your kids about cancer.


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