Coping With Cancer
Understand Your Medical Information
- Don't be afraid to ask your doctor, nurse, or other health care provider to repeat and explain any instructions or medical terms that you don't understand. They should be available to answer your questions and address your concerns.
- Make use of resources and support services offered by your hospital and in the community. Learning more about your disease will help you feel more comfortable with your treatment.
- Ask your family and friends to help you sort through the information you receive.
- Talk with other patients and families about cancer and its treatment.
What Types of Cancer Help Are Available?
There are many resources available to provide support for cancer patients and their families. Among them are:
Social Workers. Social workers are just one part of the caregiving team who can offer treatment in a compassionate setting. Social workers are available to you and your family to discuss any concerns you may have about your diagnosis and treatment, or your personal situation. Social workers can provide education, counseling regarding lifestyle changes, and referrals to community or national agencies and support groups. Your social worker also can help your family find temporary lodging, provide information about community resources, and help you with other needs.
Individual Counseling. Sometimes, people have problems that are better addressed in a one-on-one environment. By participating in individual counseling sessions, you may more effectively express sensitive or private feelings you have about your illness and its impact on your lifestyle and relationships.
Counseling services can help cancer patients and families:
- Discuss issues of concern
- Develop and enhance coping abilities
- Gain a sense of control
- Enjoy a quality of life
In addition, mental health care providers are available to create a treatment plan to meet your specific needs. Strategies can be designed to help you regain a sense of control over your life and improve your quality of life -- something everyone deserves. At times, if depression is present, medications other than those treating your cancer may be prescribed.
Support Groups. Participating in a support group can be a very useful sharing experience. They provide an environment in which you can learn new ways of dealing with your illness from others who are facing your same challenges. They can sometimes explain things differently than your doctors. You also may want to share approaches you have discovered. You will gain strength in knowing that you are not facing hardships alone.
Remember that others may share information or experiences that do not apply to you. Never replace your doctor's advice with that of another patient.
Other Services. The American Cancer Society offers a variety of services -- including financial counseling -- to help cancer patients. Call the Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 for more information. A financial counselor is available to answer any questions you may have about financial issues related to your medical care.