A Cancer Diagnosis: 6 Things You Should and Should Not Do

Learning that you have cancer triggers a wide range of emotions that can make it difficult to figure out how you should proceed. While...
close-up of a person holding the hands together

Learning that you have cancer triggers a wide range of emotions that can make it difficult to figure out how you should proceed. While working through your emotions will certainly be one aspect of processing the diagnosis, it is important that you take the time to figure out what you will need to take care of and which courses of action will only cause further panic. To help guide you through this process, here are six things you should and should not do if you have learned you have cancer.


Conquering Cancer

1. Don’t Panic

Learning that you have cancer can easily result in a state of panic that may lead you to make hasty decisions. The most important thing you can do during this time is to avoid panic and to take some time to process the diagnosis and the impact that it’ll have on you. Then, when you feel prepared, you can begin to develop a plan that will allow you to work through your diagnosis and come up with a way to begin treating cancer and its symptoms.

2. Do Research about Your Diagnosis (and Plan for the Future)

Once you’ve taken the time to calm yourself down and deal with the initial shock, take some time to learn more about your diagnosis. Sit down with your doctor and ask exactly what your diagnosis means, what basic symptoms or issues you may expect to deal with in the coming months, and what your treatment plan may include. Then draw up a plan on how you are going to tackle this. This plan can include items such as:

  • Learning where specialists are and how you will get there, such as radiology locations or imaging centers that you may need to visit.
  • Building a list of quick links that will keep you informed as you work through treating your diagnosis.
  • Discovering how you can improve certain aspects of your health, such as improving your bone density or your immune system (to protect against illnesses like the flu or COVID-19) as you battle cancer.
  • Coming up with a financial plan that will help you deal with the growing healthcare bill that you will see as you receive various treatments and procedures.

The more prepared you are in the beginning, the less stress you will experience in the future.

3. Don’t Let Your Emotions Get the Best of You

Having cancer is an emotional experience, but it is not one that should drain you of hope or happiness. Although you will feel anger, sadness, and pain, make sure to find moments of joy in all of the craziness. If you let the negative emotions get the best of you, it can be easy to give up on treatment or the hopes of beating your diagnosis. No matter what you may be going through, stay strong!

4. Do Get the Emotional Support You Need

Staying strong sounds far easier than it is. The good news? You never have to go through treatment alone. If your emotions are difficult to cope with, consider reaching out to a mental health professional like a psychologist who can help you cope with your diagnosis. Going through the therapy process will allow you to open yourself up to your feelings, come up with solutions, and learn how to better deal with these issues in the future. Of course, finding the right professional to engage in therapy sessions can be difficult. Use a service like With Therapy to connect with the right therapist near you.

5. Don’t Let Your Personal Life Go

When you have cancer, the basic joys in life can be easy to let go of. You may stop seeing your friends, taking care of yourself, showing up for work, or doing other things that you usually do on a daily basis. While you may not have the same energy that you once had, don’t let your cancer completely stop you from leading the life you want. You will fare better if you have things to look forward to on a daily basis.

6. Do Put Extra Effort Into Self-Care

Whether you only have basic tasks to take care of, plans with friends, or hobbies that you enjoy, make sure to place a greater emphasis on self-care and improving your self-image. Cancer doesn’t have to leave you debilitated. Maintain a comfortable environment, continue to do the things that make you happy, connect with those around you, and go about your day as you normally would (in a safe manner). If you don’t let cancer take the wheel, you are going to have a better outlook and higher hopes as you go through treatment.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be scary for everyone; however, it is how you decide to deal with it that ultimately determines your experience. Make sure to go through the list of proper actions and potentially problematic actions above to learn what you should do if you discover you have cancer.

Tom Parsons is a contributing writer for Urban Tulsa. He graduated from NYU with a journalism degree, and he currently resides in Tulsa.