How much can you remember of what was said by the specialist nurse or doctor at the appointment when you were told you had cancer? The answer is probably not very much and you may find it helpful to know you are not alone.....
Every two minutes someone in the UK is told they have cancer. Research has shown that the average person is only able to recall about a quarter of the information they are given at diagnosis. Many people go into shock when receiving the news and find it difficult to fully understand the diagnosis, treatment plan or what choices are available to them.
Staff at all of our Centres regularly see (or in the case of the online centre message with) people who have just received a diagnosis or who have been given information about treatments and we offer both practical and emotional support.
Our experienced and professional cancer support specialists can help you to understand and break down the information you have been given and help you to work out the questions you want to ask your healthcare team. We can also talk about the support that is available here at Maggie’s, and from your healthcare team and other organisations.
You may also find it helpful to browse through our newly diagnosed section which contains information about cancer and its treatment, how to take control of side effects and tips to help you to focus on wellbeing
Understanding the information you have been given and what options are available can help you to feel more in control and to cope better, both physically and mentally, with your diagnosis
You can drop into any of our Centres, or contact us online or just come in and have a cup of tea ( a virtual one online!) and talk with other people in a similar situation.
Others have found the following tips useful:
- Take someone with you to your appointments – not only for moral support but also to help remember what is being said by the medical team and to ask questions.
- Record the meeting – ask if you can record the meeting on a dictaphone or a mobile phone.
- Write everything down in a book - include the name of your doctor and medical team, your thoughts and fears, your treatment plan and what’s worrying you. Then it’s in a book which you can add to, cross things off and more importantly close and get on with your life.
- Get the facts - if you can find out as many of the basics as you can about your cancer diagnosis from your doctor, such as the type of cancer, where it is, if it has spread and how the cancer will be treated.
- For those of you who like a lot of information - avoid Google - the temptation is to spend hours researching your type of cancer on the internet. Every case is different and much of what you read on the web will not relate to you and may increase your anxiety unnecessarily There is also a lot of misinformation masquerading as fact.
- If you are researching online do it with some informed support. Our i website has links to over 200 organisations as well as the support Maggie's offers and you are welcome to get in touch with questions that you have or if you need help understanding the information you find.
- You may find it difficult to talk to your friends and family try to keep up open and honest communication with them and with your hospital team after your cancer diagnosis
- Talk to other people with cancer - often people find it is only those who have experienced a cancer diagnosis who will fully understand how you're feeling, plus others who have experienced cancer can share their experiences and give you insight into what you can expect during treatment. Many people find this kind of support at their local Maggie’s Centre. Online you can post messages in the forums, or talk to other members via personal messages or in our live online support groups
- Find your own ways of coping - in the aftermath of a diagnosis discovering your own coping mechanisms is essential. You may wish to spend some time alone, practice relaxation techniques, speak to a Cancer Support Specialist at Maggie’s, take long walks or keep a journal – it doesn’t really matter what it is, what’s important is it helps you feel more calm and in control.
- Work out your priorities - try to determine what’s truly important in your life and focus more of your time and energy on that.
And of course you are always welcome to post in our online community and talk things over with the online team or the other visitors
Blog originally written by Robyn February 2013