When you learn you have B-cell lymphoma, it's natural to feel a flood of emotions. But you don't have to go it alone. Family, friends, and support groups are there for you. Spend a few moments now to learn tips on how to reach out and get the backing you need.
Everyone reacts to a cancer diagnosis differently. You might feel scared, angry, or ready to take charge. Maybe you want to chat in-depth about your illness. Perhaps you'd rather be distracted with other topics of conversation. Whatever you're feeling is OK, but friends and family won't know what you need unless you tell them.
When you make your feelings known, try to be as clear as possible without putting the other person on the defensive. For example, instead of saying, "Your constant chatter about this is irritating," try, "I'd really like to sit quietly for a while."
Name a Point Person
If you have many concerned people in your life, the constant questions about your health -- though well-intentioned -- might get tiresome. To avoid repeating the same information and details, you could identify one person -- like a spouse or close friend -- and put him in charge of spreading the word.
You might also want to keep everyone clued in with a personal website that you update as often as you want. You can set one up easily through MyLifeLine or CaringBridge websites.
Don't Hesitate to Ask for Help
Friends and family members who want to help might simply say "Let me know if there's anything I can do" because they're honestly not sure how they can be useful.
If you need someone to drive you to the hospital, drop off dinner, or watch your kids for a few hours while you rest, say so. Be specific on what you need.
Connect With People Who Know What It's Like
Sometimes it helps to talk to people who have the same disease. They understand just what you're going through and can offer support and helpful tips.
Ask your doctor if your hospital has support groups for people with B-cell lymphoma. Find out if someone at the hospital, such as a social worker, can connect you with someone who's been through treatment and is willing to share their experience.
You can also reach out to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It offers a free service, the Patti Robinson Kaufmann First Connection Program, that will pair you with someone who's had the disease. You might also consider joining one of their group support programs in your area.
Explore Online Groups
Online support can be a great way to get some advice and reassurance, and many chat boards run 24/7.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network suggests looking for online groups that are run by well-known organizations, such as the American Cancer Society's Cancer Survivors Network, Cancer Support Community, or CancerCare. CancerCare has one that's specifically for people with blood cancers. The website of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society also has information about how to find support groups.
Get Help From a Mental Health Professional
If you're feeling anxious or depressed, talk to your doctor about how to find a therapist. He can direct you to a mental health professional who has experience working with people who have cancer.
CancerCare also offers free telephone counseling with social workers. You can connect with this organization by calling 800‑813‑HOPE (800-813-4673).
Don't Forget About Financial Support
Cancer treatment can be costly, and taking a leave from work or hiring extra help can also put you in a financial bind. You may also find yourself spending a lot of time trying to make sense of complicated insurance forms. There are resources that can help.
Reach out to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It offers suggestions on money matters, including insurance coverage and employment leave. The organization also has a number of programs, such as the Co-Pay Assistance Program and its Travel Assistance Program, that can help ease the financial burden. Visit the group's website to learn more.