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What To Do When You are Newly Diagnosed with Cancer

First, take a deep breath. Determine if you are in an emotional emergency or a physical emergency. Many cancers have been growing for some time and therefore are not a physical emergency. Most of us have time to research, get second opinions, and make informed decisions.

Remember that YOU know you best. Trust your intuition and internal guidance system. If something is telling you “No”, or “not now”, or “not like this” then take three days to think it over before you decide. Three days is not that long to delay making a very important decision.  

Get Support

If it is a physical emergency be sure to listen to your intuition and tap into spiritual support as well as emotional and physical support from your family and friends.

Even if it’s not a physical emergency it is likely still an emotional emergency, so find the support that is right for you. Don’t be afraid to tell your family, trusted friends, and non-familial communities that you belong to, like your church, singing group, book club, etc. You will need help and the people that love you will want to support you. Think about it from their perspective…they want to be there for you just like you would be there for them. If you flipped it around, wouldn’t you want to know so you could help a friend who was diagnosed? 

Enlist the support of a trusted therapist or find a new one. A cancer diagnosis is a traumatic event, and it may bring up past traumas bifg or small. Certainly, dealing with the fears and emotions you have would be beneficial. Bottling them up is not a good idea.We know from the Radical Remission research that our emotions all need to be felt and released so that they don't get stuck and cause issues.

If you are the type of person that wants to keep the news private, that's ok too. Telling only your partner or most trusted friend is fine. Research tells us that support is healing and that the number of people providing support is not what matters. Your perception of the support you receive is key.

Not everyone will feel they have the support system they can trust. That is when you most need to find a new support system. Check out our Health Navigators Thriver Membership to find community, connection and support with others on a similar journey.

Take Action

Get a second, or even third opinion. Try to find doctors who will have varying perspectives. You can look for an oncologist that specializes in your particular diagnosis. I also highly recommend that you find an integrative oncologist, an oncology naturopath or functional medicine doctor, to give you a different perspective outside the standard of care. 

Make a list of all your questions. Have your partner, caregiver, or friend help you with this and have someone attend all appointments with you. They will hear things you may miss. They will have your best interest at heart, and you will appreciate their perspective as you review your notes and make decisions.

Start from an Empowered Place

Tell your doctor you do not want to hear the “prognosis” or the statistics. You are not a number and should insist from the start on being treated like an individual not as a number or diagnosis. The statistics and prognosis  will not help you and may only upset you more. No one, not even the smartest doctor, can possibly know YOUR outcome. There are so many stories of people who have outlived the prognosis!

“You can believe the diagnosis, not the prognosis.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Do some research on your diagnosis. Better yet, have a friend do the research for you! Find out who is the leading doctor on your particular diagnosis, what tests you should make sure you have, and what the typical treatment may be. 

Stop Doing it All

Take a hard look at what you can put-off, outsource, or just stop doing at this time. A diagnosis is certainly a call to focus on yourself. Let other things go or let others help. You will need to spend time resting, healing, and learning. People will ask how they can help. Assign them a job to do!

Next, look at the stressors in your life. Having ways to cope with stress, to manage it, is absolutely necessary and beneficial, but eliminating the source of the stress is even better. Stress depletes our immune system, and you can’t afford that right now. You can’t eliminate all stress, you’ve just experienced one of the biggest stressors life can deliver, but you can learn to manage the stress. It’s important to be in the relaxation response as much as possible so find ways to regulate – deep breathing, walking in nature, meditation, prayer, etc. 

One of my big lessons was to learn non-doing. I was an oh-so-busy corporate executive and a mom and a wife and a volunteer and all the other things people expected me to be. I had important things to do. All. The. Time! Stopping to rest (not sleep) or to do nothing (not even read) was not something I knew how to do. I had to learn to just be. Just sit. Just listen to my internal voice. Daydreaming. Watching clouds float by or frogs sit in the pond. That’s the stuff of “non-doing”!

Prioritize Yourself

Taking time for self-care must be a priority. Do the things that help you find your center and bring balance back to your day as much as is possible at this stressful time. A diagnosis is a long game and often a call for balance. Heed the message you are receiving and take the time to change the environment in which cancer was able to grow. 

You will need to rest and keep up your strength. Continue to find ways to live your life and enjoy it as much as possible. Don’t put living on hold to focus on illness. In fact, it’s important to focus on health and happiness because that is what you want. What we focus on is what we get. Often we don’t even feel ill when we get a cancer diagnosis so don’t make yourself ill by thinking about it. As often as possible, be grateful for your health and happiness. The mind-body connection is very strong so make sure your mind is focusing on what you want so that your body can deliver.

Find Hope

Read Radical Hope by Kelly A. Turner, PhD, and other uplifting books that help you find hope. Many people have overcome a dire prognosis. You can too!

In peace, love and health,


P.S. Click here to join us for a Radical Remission WorkshopTM  to learn how to implement the lifestyle factors that promote healing. 

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