Being told you have cancer is a tremendous shock and people deal with it in different ways. As an cancer specialist for more than 20 years, I have seen every reaction, from sadness and despair to anger and denial. Above all, most patients I see describe their frustration at not being in control of the situation.
If you have just been received a cancer diagnosis, I can assure you of one thing: that the more you find out about the disease and its treatments, the more in control you will feel.
Once we have done all our testing and have a clear picture of the stage and grade of the cancer, we will sit down and discuss options. I will give you my best advice as to how we proceed but, in the end, it is best if you are fully informed and able to contribute to decisions on your treatment. This may come as a surprise to you. We are so used to going to a doctor and being told “Take this medicine” or “Have this operation”. It is important that you are included in the decisions and I can tell you for certain that taking control of your future is powerful medicine in itself.
Getting a second opinion
It is very common option for cancer patients to seek a second opinion and specialists are never offended by this.
I can help you arrange to see another specialist, or if you are already being treated somewhere else, I am happy to offer a second opinion.
Some people cope with their diagnosis very well. Others find that the feelings remain so overwhelming that they are affecting their day-to-day life and even their relationships.
There is no shame in admitting that you are not coping well and there are a great range of options for you if you are in this situation.
I can arrange for you to see a very good counsellor who will meet with you and your family to help you understand your feelings. Or you can call the Cancer Council on 13 11 20 and ask them for the name of a counsellor in your area.
Support Groups can also provide much information and support in this difficult time. The Cancer Council will have the details of your nearest support group.
The Cancer Council has an excellent booklet about coping with a diagnosis of prostate cancer.