- An Expert’s guide for the newly diagnosed, By Dr. Dorai Ramanathan, Head of Oncology Services at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai
When you first hear that you have cancer, it can be an extremely overwhelming experience. Many thoughts will go through your head and you might overflow with feelings of fear, anger, and shock. When hearing life changing news, it is normal to feel this way.
- Do Not Panic
At this moment, it is important to first process the situation and calm down before taking any action. Once you have comprehended the news, you can create a plan that will help start your journey and strategize the next steps taken. Doctors often say that over 50% of the healing process is mental rather than physical, and while sometimes it is hard to have a positive outlook, this is a vital part of the healing process.
- Understand Your Diagnosis
To start, it is essential that you understand the disease and your diagnosis. This information should be provided to you by a doctor. The doctor should explain and help you understand the type of cancer you were diagnosed with, the stage that you are in, and the treatment options. You could also look through credible online sources to gain knowledge on your diagnosis and prepare for future steps.
“Although ‘Cancer’ continues to be a scary word, the last decade reveals further evolving knowledge on cancer including the causes, prevention, and treatment giving people renewed hope and better chances of remission. Furthermore, increased screening has led to earlier diagnosis which in turn leads to better survival rates for our patients”. Dr. Dorai Ramanathan, Consultant Medical Oncologist & Head of Oncology Center at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai
- Find a Good Care Team
Once you have all the information you need on the diagnosis, you should look for a good care team. Find a team that will listen to you, understand what you are going through, and explain all the steps required in the process. To find a team, it is important that you research the center you visit and ask about their credibility. It is also important that you feel confident in the care team that you choose.
“Asking for a second opinion would also be a good way to find a team that you would want to continue your treatment with. These are high involvement decisions and often patients need to make sure they are taking the right decision for their care” – Adds Dr. Dorai
- Explore Treatment Options
After finding a care team that you are comfortable with, you should discuss your treatment options along with their side effects. There is typically more than one treatment option that you could get, therefore you must explore the treatment options recommended by your doctor. When discussing your options make sure you know the goal and the risks of each treatment. Such knowledge can help you choose the best option for yourself.
- Find a Good Support System
Throughout this whole process, finding a good support system is also a crucial part of the process. Focusing on your mental health is just as important as the physical aspect. Surrounding yourself with supportive family members and friends could positively impact your mental and physical health. In addition to that, you could also visit support groups and meet with cancer survivors for emotional and mental support.
Getting diagnosed with cancer is frightening and it could create a great deal of stress. This is why it is important that you take control of the situation and seek the help you need. Creating a clear plan can help make you prepared for what’s to come. Make sure you understand your diagnosis, have a good care team and support system, and explore your treatment options.