It is perfectly normal to feel angry, anxious, or overwhelmed after you, or a loved one, are diagnosed with lung cancer. Don’t be afraid to ask family, friends, and even patient support groups for help. Most of all, please remember that you are not alone. Here are some tips to help you along this journey.
Establish Good Communication with Your Doctor
- Be prepared.
Speak with your doctor about what to expect at each stage of your journey. Have a notebook and write down your questions or concerns before your doctor appointment.
- Take good notes during doctor visits.
Whenever you see the doctor, bring your notebook and take detailed notes. Review your notes with the doctor or nurse to make sure you understood your doctors’ instructions correctly.
- Tell your doctor about any herbal medications or vitamins you take.
Even “natural” remedies can affect your cancer treatment, so tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. Do not take any new supplements or herbal medications without talking with your doctor.
- Keep a medication journal or calendar, and note any changes in your body.
Write down the names of the medicines you take, the dosage, and the times you take them. Record any side effects that you have and when you get them. Let your doctor know right away about any side effects, so that your doctor can help you address them quickly. DO NOT stop taking any medications without speaking to your doctor, as this can make your cancer worse.
Accept Help from Family Members and Caregivers
Don’t be afraid to tell your loved ones about your lung cancer diagnosis, or to ask for help from family. Try to bring a friend or family member with you to doctor appointments, so they can help support you during your doctor visits, or let them help you with everyday chores. Getting help may reduce your stress and make you feel more supported.
Making Lifestyle Changes
- You may need to adapt your diet.
When you have cancer, you may have trouble eating enough, so to keep up your strength, you may need extra protein and calories. If you have trouble chewing or swallowing, you may need to add sauces or gravies to your food. Or if you have diarrhea, you may need to eat “low fiber” foods such as bananas, white rice, and plain yogurt. Ask your doctor/dietician for advice about your diet.
- Reduce your stress.
Walking or light exercise (as recommended by your doctor), getting lots of sleep, listening to music, and practicing meditation are all ways that may improve your emotional health and your daily comfort.
There are many resources available to help you and your family cope with the stress of cancer. Ask your doctor about patient support groups that may be available in your area.
Remember, there have been many recent medical advancements in lung cancer in just the last few years, and getting a lung cancer diagnosis is no longer a definite hopeless ending. Today, there are many options that doctors have to help lung cancer patients. Take charge of your health. Get informed. Don’t be ashamed as lung cancer can affect anyone, even those who never smoked. Learn about your options and about Biomarker testing. Spread the word to friends and loved ones.