Dealing with the emotions of a cancer diagnosis

Shock, disbelief, fear, anxiety, guilt, sadness, grief, depression, anger. These are some of the common feelings the American Cancer Society says you may experience after you are diagnosed with cancer. The journey following a diagnosis can be a long struggle, but what about the rush of emotions upon initially learning the news?  In honor of “Winging It Goes Pink Week,” Mental Health Counselor Lynne Rifkin Shine (of Audubon Counseling in Williamsville) shared some ways that patients and their loved ones can help each other cope with the difficult news.

There are many ways to cope and communicate with friends and relatives who may have recently received a cancer diagnosis. People feel like they need to say something. Some people want to give advice or share a similar story about a neighbor.  The reality is you shouldn’t be saying any of those things. You need to say something like “I don’t know what that feels like, I’m not in your shoes, but I’m sorry” or just simply say “I’m thinking of you”.

Lynne suggests if you find out someone was just diagnosed with cancer – to reach out and acknowledge the information. The worst thing is not to do anything.  Even if you send a little card or leave a message “you don’t have to call me back… just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you.” Other times neighbors and families assemble a dinner schedule to help out. This can be very helpful especially if there are kids or other family members at that household. Having a warm meal prepared is just one less thing that they need to be worried about.

There are many stages that people go through. Lynne suggests that each case and reaction is unique – so you have to gauge their reaction in terms of how much to do or say. If you have any questions or concerns regarding coping with a cancer diagnosis, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Audubon Counseling.

For more advice on how to deal with the emotions of a cancer diagnosis, you can turn to the American Cancer Society.