Posts Tagged ‘cancer diagnosis support’

8 Ways to Cope with Cancer as a Young Adult

Friend SupportReceiving a cancer diagnosis can be devastating. Just imagine how hard it would be to hear the news as a young adult. The challenges of being diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 18 and 39 are different from those in patients who are diagnosed later in life.

Many young adults diagnosed with cancer experience a disruption in a new career and dating. Cancer and any treatments that follow can sometimes have long-term affects on a person’s ability to start a family.

Here are eight ways to help you cope with cancer as a young adult:

  1. Request and ask for help. Having a support system during this time is critical. Be sure to reach out to others for support even after your treatment is completed.
  2. Consider giving friends and family members specific tasks in order to help you. Some friends and family members may not be sure how best to support you during this time. It may be helpful to you and them to provide friends and family members with specific requests. For example, request rides to treatment, ask for certain meals to be made or errands to be ran.
  3. Educate yourself. Having knowledge about your diagnosis and treatment often helps young patients maintain some sort of control during this time. This also helps to ensure you are making educated decisions about your healthcare.
  4. Ask questions! Do not hesitate to ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions. Write down your questions prior to your medical appointments.
  5. Inquire about how your treatment will affect you. Many treatments affect a patient’s ability to conceive children in the future. Talk with your medical professional about this and what options may be available to you.
  6. Consider reaching out to other young cancer survivors through young adult support groups or connecting online. The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University currently has a new Young Adult Cancer Survivor Online Support Group that meets once a month. This group is specific for any young adult who was diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 18 and 39.
  7. Reach out to a social worker for additional emotional support. Oncology social workers have a special level of expertise and are trained to provide support to patients as they are coping with diagnosis and treatment. It is often helpful to be able to process your feelings with someone else. Social workers also have a wealth of knowledge about additional resources that may be helpful.
  8. Try not to compare yourself to other friends or family members. Your cancer diagnosis may have altered your life pattern, however, it does not have to destroy it.

The cancer diagnosis is something that happened to you, but it doesn’t have to define you or control your future. There is help out there; you just have to know where to look and who to ask.

About Joy McCall, LMSW

Joy McCallJoy McCall is a Winship social worker with bone marrow transplant, hematology and gynecologic teams and their patients. She started her professional career at Winship as an intern, working with breast, gynecologic, brain and melanoma cancer patients. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Kennesaw State University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia. As part of her education she completed an internship with the Marcus Institute working on the pediatric feeding unit, and an internship counseling individuals and couples at Families First, supporting families and children facing challenges to build strong family bonds and stability for their future. She had previously worked with individuals with developmental disabilities for over 4 years, providing support to families and caregivers.

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10 Ways to Talk With Your Child About Cancer

Mother Child TalkingHaving to tell others about your cancer diagnosis can be very challenging and uncomfortable. Sharing the news with a young child or teenager can be even more difficult. Many patients I talk with are hesitant to tell their children about their diagnosis because they want to protect or shield them from the information. Children can sense that something is wrong and keeping that type of secret can be overwhelming.

Here are ten ways to discuss a cancer diagnosis with your child:

  1. Talk to your children in words that they can understand. Try not to provide young children with too many details as this can be overwhelming for them.
  2. Use the word cancer. This helps to avoid confusion when you talk about other illnesses.
  3. Books are a great tool when talking with children about your diagnosis. For young children (ages 3-5 years-old) use picture books. Some good books include What is Cancer Anyway? by Karen L. Carney and NoWhere Hair: Explains Cancer and Chemo to Your Kids by Sue Glader.
  4. Provide reassurance that they will be taken care of.
  5. Remind children that they did not cause the cancer and cancer is not contagious so they cannot “catch it.”
  6. Give them information about changes within the home. For example, if another family member will pick them up from school instead of you.
  7. Provide children with an explanation of what they may expect as you begin treatment. For example, remind children that you may lose your hair when you start chemotherapy or may have to go into the hospital to get better. Reassurance that this is normal is also important.
  8. Expect questions. Even though you may not know the answer to a question, be honest and say that you do not know. It is important that children know they can ask questions.
  9. Check in with your child about how they are feeling. Some children may get angry, quiet or sad. Remind them that they can talk with you about how they are feeling.
  10. Consider registering your child to participate in the CLIMB support group for youngsters. This group is designed for children ages 6-12 who have a parent or grandparent with a cancer diagnosis. Kids meet with other children who are also experiencing something similar and they are encouraged to talk about their feelings. Contact a Winship Cancer Institute social worker for more details.

It is important to remember that every child responds differently to news of a cancer diagnosis. The disease not only affects the patient but the whole family. If you have concerns about how your child is coping with your diagnosis, consider talking with a counselor at your child’s school, or with a social worker at the Winship Cancer Institute.

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About Joy McCall, LMSW

Joy McCallJoy McCall is a Winship social worker with bone marrow transplant, hematology and gynecologic teams and their patients. She started her professional career at Winship as an intern, working with breast, gynecologic, brain and melanoma cancer patients. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Kennesaw State University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia. As part of her education she completed an internship with the Marcus Institute working on the pediatric feeding unit, and an internship counseling individuals and couples at Families First, supporting families and children facing challenges to build strong family bonds and stability for their future. She had previously worked with individuals with developmental disabilities for over 4 years, providing support to families and caregivers.

5 Actions to Consider When Diagnosed with Cancer

5 Things to ConsiderA common symptom of a new cancer diagnosis is pure and utter bewilderment. The American healthcare system can be a confusing maze involving dozens of options and decisions. Helping someone understand what comes next is an important part of my job as an oncologist and is necessary to assure a patient’s overall wellbeing.

Here are five actions to consider taking after receiving a cancer diagnosis.

  1. Get a second opinion. Before starting any cancer treatment, get at least one additional physician or team of physicians to review your case and give an opinion on both the diagnosis and possible treatment options. In fact, you may be required to get a second opinion by your insurance company. Don’t worry about offending your doctor. Getting a second opinion is a very common practice.
  2. Look for a clinical trial. Tens of thousands of people benefit each year from volunteering to participate in a clinical trial. Clinical trials can provide you with access to treatments not otherwise available, including new drugs and therapies for many types of cancer. Winship Cancer Institute is proud to offer patients access to hundreds of cancer clinical trials.