If you know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, you’re sure to want to support him or her as best as you can. It’s also crucial you understand what happens to someone on his or her journey after being diagnosed with a form of cancer so that you know what to expect.
Diagnosis and Treatment
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, his or her doctor will recommend appropriate kinds of treatment. However, some people may not be able to accept their diagnosis and want a second opinion. Getting a second opinion might make sense as it will allow the individual to double-check the diagnosis and come to terms with his or her cancer, as well as ask questions about the specific type of cancer he or she has. The best treatment option depends on the type of cancer the individual has. It’s also dependent on how far the cancer has spread. Other things that will be taken into consideration are the person’s age and any additional health problems he or she has. The right treatment option can then be found. The most common treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplants.
Potential Physical Changes
Each person’s cancer journey is different, so physical changes are dependent on many factors, including the type of cancer someone has and the kind of treatment he or she is having. Depending on such factors, a cancer patient could experience the following physical changes:
- Hair loss.
- Weight loss or weight gain.
- A loss or increase in appetite.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Sleeping problems.
- Pale skin.
- A change in how things smell or taste.
Potential Emotional Changes
Living with cancer can be very unpredictable. A person may feel emotionally fine one day and a complete mess the next. That is perfectly normal. Each person reacts in his or her own way to both the cancer and the treatment. The moods of people with cancer can change from day to day or even hour to hour. It’s common for cancer patients to feel emotions like anger, sadness, frustration, guilt, loneliness, resentment, and a lack of control; and each of those will be much stronger and intense feelings than they would be in a healthy person.
Everyone copes in different ways during times of illness and upheaval, and that applies to cancer too. When someone is told he or she has cancer, that person begins his or her own personal journey. Some people prefer to remain private while others like to be open and talk about feelings. You’ll find other cancer patients use humor to cope with their situations. No one knows what his or her coping mechanism will be like. Someone who usually uses humor to deal with traumatic situations may not necessarily do so when diagnosed with cancer. The person could become angry or sad instead. Also, some people remain hopeful throughout treatment, while others may feel hopeless. So, don’t assume that you know how someone will respond to being diagnosed with cancer. Neither should you presume certain behavior means something specific. For instance, don’t presume someone who is optimistic and positive is in denial about his or her cancer. It is simply that person’s way of coping.