Cancer Care

You Have Cancer. Now What? Methodist Can Help You Process the News

They’re the three words no one wants to hear: You have cancer.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone. The reality is that more than one-third of men and women will receive a cancer diagnosis sometime during their lives.

Still, it’s important to remember that a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment is a beginning – not an end.

Here are some of the thoughts, feelings and stages you can expect and ways Methodist can help guide you through the process if you or a family member is confronted with cancer.

The five stages of grief

A patient who receives a cancer diagnosis will likely experience a range of emotions. Everyone will cope a little differently. One person may cry, while another may throw themselves into work or go shopping.

Most people, however, will at some point experience the five stages of grief. They are:

  • Denial. You may question how you can have a disease when you’re otherwise healthy or have no family history of cancer.
  • Anger. Feelings of “why me?” can be directed at your family, providers and even yourself. This stage can feel endless.
  • Bargaining. “If only I …” You may catch yourself wondering “what if” and promising to make a major life change in order to get your old life back.
  • Depression. You may withdraw from public life, stop talking with friends or have trouble sleeping. This stage, too, can feel unending but may come and go.
  • Acceptance. Seeking treatment is a form of acceptance. Other forms of acceptance include re-entering daily life, seeking out support groups or counseling and acknowledging that there will be good and bad days.

It’s also important to know that you may experience these stages more than once throughout the course of the disease.

Methodist guides patients through the grieving process

Dealing with a diagnosis and treatment is overwhelming. Your providers will do their best to answer your questions and discuss treatment plans.

At Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center, patients can speak with psychiatrists and counselors who specialize in working with people who may experience sadness or other emotions. They offer services to help patients and their families deal with the emotional challenge that cancer presents. They also help patients have the highest quality of life possible.

Social workers can assist patients with issues that can cause stress, particularly after getting a diagnosis. They can help find solutions for caregiver concerns, financial assistance and transportation. They are there to guide you in the right direction and lead you to available resources.

Sometimes it’s best to speak with someone who’s been there. Methodist understands this and offers support for you and your loved ones through various groups and services.

Chaplains are also available to support patients and their families with processing the emotional and spiritual issues that may come with a diagnosis.

Understanding your needs

Stay off the internet and be cautious about information relayed to you from well-meaning friends and family. Talk to your providers.

At Methodist, you can expect to fill out a questionnaire that will help your provider understand your needs, emotional and otherwise. Your diagnosis may cause you anxiety about other areas of your life. We’re here to help.

More resources

About the Author

Becky Childers, PA-C, is part of the Midwest Gynecology Oncology team at Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center. She works closely with physicians to educate and schedule patients, assist with surgical procedures, manage patients’ postoperative care and clear patients to receive their chemotherapy.

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