5 Things Everyone Should Know When First Diagnosed With Cancer

There are many reasons I highly recommend not going to the Internet for answers, but the biggest one is that everybody's experience with cancer is different.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

1. Do not read the Internet
There are many reasons I highly recommend not going to the Internet for answers, but the biggest one is that everybody's experience with cancer is different. You will probably type on Google: "What is Hodgkin's Lymphoma" and more than a million hits will appear. Eventually you will end up on a blog where someone tells you that the cancer you have is caused by something you did or didn't do, is curable by doing something you've never heard of, or worse yet, told something so dire, it only serves to increase the sense of dread you are already feeling.

2. Ask questions
This is a far better solution than the Internet. When you have your first appointment with your doctor, ask him/her anything. If your doctor seems in a rush or doesn't have time to answer your questions, then that is a good indication that maybe you need to get a new doctor. When first diagnosed, we (as cancer patients), are scared, vulnerable and often isolated. Our doctor is there to not only guide us, but our loved ones as well.

Have a list of questions. Have a family member or friend with you. Tape record the conversation. Anxiety will be high. It's difficult to remember information when feeling anxious. Ask them anything because in most situations they will be more informative than the Internet, and should also be more reassuring. Your question could be as simple as "When do I start treatment?" Or as complicated as, "When should I start banking my sperm?"

3. Understand that there are no short-term solutions
As much as cancer sucks, you will not be better by tomorrow. Take a deep breath and try to take each day one step at time. Sounds clichᅢᄅ, but in reality that is the only way you will get through the hardest days. Giving yourself a goal (like getting back to work/school) is great, seeing that goal through is even better. Cancer is a diagnoses, not an identity conclusion. It is what you are battling, not who you are. Take a WIDE angle view of your life. It may be cancer for now, but it is not the story of your life, so don't let cancer define you.

4. Enjoy the days when you feel good
Not every day is going to suck as a cancer patient. Yes, most will, but if you have chemo once every three weeks, most likely that second week you will start to feel more normal. So do normal things. Go to a concert, see a movie, go to a party (probably shouldn't drink), but do things that will take your mind off of the hard situation you are in. If you have the ability to do fun activities in the midst of all the crap that you are or will be going through, then that will help you get through the tough days. It will also serve to remind you what you want to be getting back to when you are cancer-free!

5. Use the cancer card
No, I don't mean like, "Hey guys. I have cancer, feel bad for me." I mean like: apply for scholarships to help you or your family financially. There are many resources available. Be proactive with multiple websites that offer financial assistance (i.e., cuckfancer.org, hope4yawc.org, thesamfund.org). Be social. If you want to go out with your friends, drive yourself. And when you want leave because you aren't having fun, no one will ever question why you are leaving. It's okay to be a little selfish. The goal is to take care of yourself. Sometimes that means saying yes, and sometimes that means saying no.

Go To Homepage