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Cancer Support: Finding Out That You Have Cancer - Topic Overview

"When I heard the word 'cancer,' I couldn't believe it. Part of me was terrified, but another part was in denial. How could this happen to me? I just didn't want to deal with having cancer, didn't want to put my family through all of it. It took a while to accept what was happening. One thing that helped was having my doctor walk me through my options. It made me feel a little more in control to know I had choices."—Tomas, 75

A cancer diagnosis can change your life. You may feel like your world has turned upside down and you have lost all control. Some people feel angry, sad, scared, powerless, or stunned. Everyone reacts differently. And your feelings may change often, without warning.

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Making decisions about your care and facing cancer treatment can be overwhelming. You may feel like things are happening so quickly that you don't have time to deal with your feelings.

It's okay to take time to deal with your reaction to having cancer. You may want to spend that time with loved ones, or you may need some time to yourself.

Questions to ask

Think about taking a family member or friend with you when you go to your doctor appointments. When you're distressed, it's much harder to take in important information. It can feel like more than you can handle. But having another person there to listen, take notes, and support you can make it a little easier. Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • What do I need to know about my cancer?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • How soon do I need to make a decision about treatment?
  • Where can I get more information about my type of cancer?

It's important to remember that you're not in this alone. Your medical team can help you understand your diagnosis and what to expect. And your family and friends can help support you through the process.

Getting help and support

Now is an important time to lean on friends and family. It's not always easy to ask for help, especially if you're used to taking care of others and doing everything for yourself. But remember that the people around you want to support you, and asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. Think about the types of help you want. You may need:

  • Someone who can listen to your worries and fears.
  • Help with errands or picking up kids.
  • Meals and groceries delivered to your home.
  • Rides to and from appointments.
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