There’s no question about it: A cancer diagnosis upends your life. It can usher in a frightening period of uncertainty as you plunge into a cycle of treatments, doctor’s visits, and multi-week waits. You have to learn an entirely new vocabulary, one that is both unfamiliar and frightening. Furthermore, you have to make accommodations in your personal life, as finances and timelines shift to fit these new developments. So what can you do to manage your diagnosis and find some semblance of normalcy when everything seems to be strange? Below are three tips for managing your cancer diagnosis in your personal life.
Ensure your finances are in order
Cancer typically comes with a huge financial burden. The American Cancer Society estimates that the direct medical costs for cancer in the United States clocked in at a staggering $80.2 billion in 2015, with a little over half of that cost coming from hospital outpatient or doctors’ office visits. For that reason, it is important to prioritize your finances to ensure that you can pay for the costs of cancer. Financial goals like retirement savings, house upgrades, and vacations might have to be put on the back-burner in favor of more immediate financial needs.
Even with great financial planning, paying the enormous costs associated with a cancer diagnosis is difficult. Fortunately, there are several charities and organizations that support people diagnosed with cancer. The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition lists hundreds of charities assisting with everything from fertility treatments to home care to wigs. If you have life insurance, you may also consider viatical settlements. A viatical settlement is simply the sale of one’s life insurance policy to a third party for immediate access to its funds. A viatical settlement can yield tens of thousands of dollars completely tax-free as a cash payment.
Take pain seriously
When dealing with cancer, chronic pain can be especially debilitating. In addition to the pain experienced as a result of the disease, many people diagnosed with cancer experience chronic pain as a side effect of cancer treatment. Advanced cancers can result in pain from bone metastasis, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy can cause neuropathy, and steroid treatments can engender osteoporosis. Chronic pain not only impedes your day-to-day life, but it can also make healing more difficult. Fortunately, as this article points out, there are dozens of different ways of treating cancer pain, from physical therapy to medications to aggressive treatments like nerve blocks.
However, no treatment is perfect, and many courses of treatment leave patients looking for further relief. You should discuss and set a goal for pain management with your doctor, and monitor the success of any ensuing treatment. Furthermore, with the approval of your doctor, you can also seek out natural and alternative pain management practices, such as CBD. CBD is claimed to leave patients with less pain and inflammation, more calmness, and improved sleep quality.
Cultivate a support network
Hopefully, while dealing with a cancer diagnosis, you will have the support of friends and family. While their help is welcomed and will go a long way toward helping you with your fight, you should also consider joining a support group, and talking to other cancer survivors. Others who are undergoing or have undergone cancer treatment can help you understand what to expect throughout the treatment process. They can also share their experience, and their own ways of coping with a life-changing diagnosis. Investing in your support network will have benefits that extend beyond yourself. Cancer can also be stressful for your family and loved ones. Weill Cornell states that “a full 20 to 30 percent of spouses or partners suffer mood disturbances or even psychological impairment in the wake of a diagnosis.” Having a larger support network can help your loved ones find people who will support them in turn.
Managing a cancer diagnosis can take a toll on one’s overall well-being, but there are ways to cope with the illness. By understanding your finances, listening to your body, and cultivating a strong support network, you can fight this diagnosis with strength and determination, in hopes that you will conquer it for good.