A counselor can be a great help when you are adjusting to a cancer diagnosis. Face-to-face or telephone counseling provides a safe space to share strong emotions and examine ways to overcome challenges.

Learn new ways to cope with cancer

A cancer diagnosis can be devastating and the days following can be thrown into chaos. Managing medical appointments, organizing finances and understanding new treatment terminology can be hard to handle on your own. Individual counseling can help you prepare for what’s ahead and identify ways you are already coping. An oncology social worker can help you identify your feelings and explore coping mechanisms to manage the anxiety and stress that often accompany a cancer diagnosis.

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Manage financial challenges

Cancer is an expensive illness and can magnify any financial burdens you are already facing. Even with health insurance, most people will have out- of-pocket costs for their medical care. A counselor, trained to aid cancer patients, can help you research and connect you to financial assistance options that best fit your needs. This can include co-payments for medications, transportation assistance and assistance with living expenses such as rent or mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance and food.

Talk to your loved ones about cancer

Cancer is a difficult subject to talk about. You may feel that the diagnosis is yours alone to cope with or feel the need to isolate yourself from others.

Recognize that confronting a cancer diagnosis may bring you and your loved ones closer together. Keeping the lines of communication open with the people in your life can allow you to feel more connected to a network of support. Identify family and friends who are supportive and be open with them about your needs as you go through treatment.

For parents coping with a diagnosis, some may try to avoid the topic in fear that they will upset their children. What to say about cancer, how to say it and how much information to share with a child are common concerns. Counseling can help you understand how you are reacting to cancer, how you feel and how to talk to your children about your diagnosis.

Improve communication with your health care team

The relationship you have with your health care team can make a big difference in how you cope with your diagnosis and related challenges. The more you feel that you can openly discuss any matters of concern to you, the better you are likely to feel about your care overall. A counselor can provide guidance and tips on ways to improve communication with your health care team. They can help you ensure your needs are being met, advocate for yourself and help you become an active participant in your treatment and care.

Find reliable information

One of the biggest challenges for people with cancer is sorting through different treatment options. There is a vast amount of information available on the internet, some of it unreliable. A counselor can help you find trustworthy materials from reliable sources to help you make an informed decision about the type of treatment you choose to pursue.

>> For information on Where to Find Counseling for People Living with Cancer