There isn’t one best or easiest way to live with a diagnosis of lung cancer. Here are some suggestions for ways you can live well and take positive steps to deal with your diagnosis and treatment:
Talk with your doctors and nurses. Ask questions. Ask them to repeat things you don’t understand. Repeat back to them what you think you heard and ask them to confirm that you understand. Be active in your care and choices. Use a notebook to keep track of questions you have and information about your health and disease, such as your latest test results, medical reports and notes. Bring a family member or friend with you to all appointments so you can confirm the information you hear from your doctors.
Even the experts don’t understand everything about lung cancer, especially how each person will respond to treatment. Be cautious when reading the statistics, they do not tell you about your specific lung cancer. Find doctors who share your hope for survival and are willing to fight alongside you.
When your cancer was diagnosed, your family and other loved ones likely began their own personal journeys with lung cancer. They are dealing with their own sadness, fears and worries. One way for them to handle their feelings is to try to take care of you. If possible, allow them to help you. It is part of their healing process as well as yours.
When it comes to family and friends, be sure to:
Reach out to others for support. There are a lot of in-person and online support resources that you may find helpful. To talk with someone who has been through a lung cancer diagnosis and/or a clinical trial, call the Cancer Hope Network at 1-800-552-4366 or complete our form to get matched with a survivor.
Unless your doctor has told you otherwise, keep your daily routine and remain active as much as you can. Staying active with some exercise can help you have fewer side effects, decrease your risk of infection and recovery time posttreatment. Patients who stay physically active also report that their overall emotional well-being is improved. Ask your doctor what level of activity is best for you.
Support groups offer a safe and supportive place to talk with others going through situations similar to yours. However, some people are not comfortable seeking out support groups because they feel guilty about a lung cancer diagnosis. If you have smoked and you feel it is your own “fault” that you have lung cancer, participating in a support group may be an especially important and helpful step in your lung cancer journey. Remember, no one deserves lung cancer, and everyone deserves appropriate treatment and support. Even if there is no support group near you, multiple resources are available online and via telephone.
You may go to your first support group meetings seeking encouragement and hope for yourself, only to find that you have the power to give that same encouragement and hope to someone else. Many kinds of support are available, and some groups can also help your family and loved ones who are affected by your illness. Many people continue to find comfort from support groups even after their treatment has ended.
Some level of distress is normal with a diagnosis of cancer, but should share this with your cancer treatment team so you can be assessed for anxiety and depression, both of which can be treated with therapy and/or medication.
Come together with survivors, family, friends and loved ones at a local run-walk, bike ride, yogathon or other Free to Breathe event. You'll be welcomed by a community driven to improve lung cancer survival and support everyone affected by this disease.
The Personalized Care Plan is a guide for every lung cancer patient, no matter where their journey takes them. Use this resource to record information on your diagnosis, track treatments and appointments, monitor symptoms and more.
This information is not designed to be a substitute for medical advice provided by your treatment team.
Last updated 7/2015
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