Coping with Cancer

We understand how devastating it can be when diagnosed with cancer. View our tips for coping with cancer.

Don’t believe the old adage that cancer equals death. There are 14 million cancer survivors in the U.S. today!

Do cope with cancer one day at a time. It may seem like an overwhelming task, but when you break it up into small pieces, just what you must face each day, it is much easier.

Don’t try to “go it all alone.” Tell those closest to you what is happening and allow them to help you. You may find it useful to join a group with people who have your same challenge - they will understand what you are feeling and you can see how they are managing the same issues. Groups are not for everyone, but it doesn’t hurt to give one a try.

Don’t be embarrassed to seek help. It is not a sign of weakness but of emotional strength. Some people like talk therapy and find talking to a counselor very helpful. Others like relaxation, meditation, art therapy, massage, yoga - all are helpful and it is a personal preference.

Do reexplore spiritual or religious beliefs that may have been helpful in the past, including prayer which is a comfort to those from several religious traditions. It may help to seek out a counselor from your faith. Others find equal help from philosophical and secular traditions. Finding others who share the same spiritual beliefs often provides a group of people who are supportive and understanding.

Do find an oncologist with whom you can ask questions and feel like a partner in your treatment plan. This is not always possible, and in such situations, find a member of the oncology team with whom you can talk, like the nurse, social worker or mental health person.

Excerpts from chapter 6, The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty, by Jimmie Holland and Sheldon Lewis. Harper Collins, 2001.