A cancer diagnosis can be devastating – not just for the patient, but for their loved ones as well. It can take time to adjust. Naturally, you may have many questions relating to your diagnosis and may not even be sure where to begin. It is also not abnormal to sink into a state of depression and develop anxiety as a result. Understanding all of the oftentimes-confusing medical terms that relate to having cancer can also be overwhelming.
Dr. Ali Ghahary, a Vancouver physician who practices at Brentwood Medical Clinic, says it is important for patients to know that when it comes to their health, regardless of whether it’s in relation to a cancer diagnosis or for an entirely different reason, no question should be off the table, nor should a patient feel embarrassed to express how they feel – whether it’s confusion, anger, sadness or anything else. In fact, by expressing themselves and by learning more about their medical diagnosis, patients may have a better sense of understanding and feel more in control over the situation.
As mentioned, it isn’t uncommon for individuals who are diagnosed with cancer to also experience a decrease in their mental health. 1 in 4 people diagnosed with cancer develop depression and/or anxiety. Some signs of depression include a withdrawal from society, lack of energy, difficulty with decision-making, as well as an overwhelming sense of sadness. If you or your loved ones are experiencing any of these signs, it is important to reach out and get help. By openly discussing how you are feeling by getting the appropriate treatment necessary, you can regain your sense of hope and self-control.
Cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, sometimes in conjecture with the other. Both of these types of treatment can be gruelling on the body and leave the patient feeling weak and nauseous, in addition to changes in appetite as well as hair loss. Upon receiving chemotherapy, it is important to watch for signs of fever and infection. Patients are most susceptible to developing fever and infection 7 to 14 days after their treatment, so it is important to pay attention to how you are feeling and report any abnormalities to your physician or oncologist. If you cannot reach your doctors, patients are urged go to the nearest emergency room. Flu-like symptoms such as nausea and general aches and pains can also occur as a result of cancer treatment. Over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol may help, while physicians may also prescribe stronger, prescription-strength pain medications as well as anti-emetics. Fatigue is also a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. It is important that you not over exert yourself and rest as much as possible to avoid any setbacks in your treatment and recovery.