Written by Evelyn Wallace
Evelyn, a Registered General Nurse, is Clinical Manager of AXA Health’s Cancer Care team, where she is responsible for ensuring excellent customer service and continuing development of the team.
Feeling overwhelmed by your cancer diagnosis? Can't focus on what comes next? Our team of dedicated cancer nurses have compiled these practical pointers.
1. Don’t see the doctor on your own - Ask a relative or friend to come with you to your specialist appointment. They can help you remember what was said and tell other family and friends what is happening as well as supporting you emotionally.
2. Write down questions - Do this before your appointment and take along a pen and paper so you can jot down the answers (doctors are used to this and won't mind). Ask about starting dates for scans, chemo or surgery, their duration, side effects and tests that may be done to see how the treatment is affecting the cancer.
3. Start a diary for your treatment plan - Get organised and mark off dates on a calendar to help you focus on getting through the chemotherapy treatment cycles. Planning can help make you feel in control, but it’s likely that you will also have to be flexible and take each day as it comes.
4. Stay positive - Easier said than done we know, but try and look at all the treatment options available, rather than focusing on any bad news.
5. Use visualisation techniques - Imagine cancer cells being destroyed as treatment begins. A trained therapist or psychologist can teach you or try a DVD or CD. Relaxation therapies such as yoga can be useful too.
6. Find survivors for support - Sharing your feelings and worries with others who have the same condition can be a support. Look for internet forums run by cancer charities or ask friends or family if they know anyone.
7. Keep a structure to your days - Don't retreat from the world, follow set routines to avoid focusing on the cancer all the time.
8. Eat well - Follow a healthy diet and aim to eat small amounts regularly to give you energy and help your body fight the cancer. Your doctor or dietitian may give you more specific advice on what to eat or drink.
9. Sleep well - Your head may be filled with worry during this time and this could make sleeping difficult. Develop a bedtime routine to keep you relaxed and help your body get used to winding down at night. You'll find more tips and techniques to help you get a better night's sleep in our sleep hub.
10. Get moving - Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind when you’re faced with cancer, but it can be a boost to your mood and general wellbeing. Be sure to ask your doctor if you’re okay to do some light exercise during your treatment.
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