How to Navigate the Life Changes That Come Along With Receiving a Cancer Diagnosis – Submitted by Phillip Carr

While cancer is a diagnosis nobody plans on receiving, millions of Americans are diagnosed each year. And though there have been many new cancer treatments and therapy developments in recent years, receiving a cancer diagnosis is still as frightening as ever. Those with cancer often experience a wide range of physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual changes that make it difficult or even impossible to live their lives as normal.

There could be side effects of surgeries, medications, chemotherapy, and other cancer treatments — and these side effects could affect the way an individual eats, socializes, works, cares for their loved ones, and manages household chores. It can take some time to adapt to these changes and adjust to this new way of living.

At Kickin’ Cancer, our goal is to empower those with cancer to thrive as they navigate a cancer diagnosis. We know how paralyzing it can feel to learn that you or another loved one has cancer, but the following tips can help you to deal with the many life changes that tend to come along with receiving a cancer diagnosis.

Focus on What You Can Control, Like Your Appointments, Education & Career

Receiving a cancer diagnosis causes many uncertainties that can make you feel helpless, anxious, depressed, and distressed. And though these feelings are completely normal, taking a look at the different things you can control during this challenging time in your life will help to reduce the stress and anxiety of living with cancer.

As a few examples, you could:

Advocate for yourself at doctor’s appointments

Ask lots of questions, get a second opinion, and learn as much as you can about the cancer you’ve been diagnosed with.

Keep track of your doctor’s visits and cancer treatments

While it’s okay to ask your family or other loved ones for help with keeping track of your doctor’s appointments and cancer treatments, being involved in your own medical care could help to alleviate some of the anxiety you’re experiencing. There are lots of different ways to keep track of your appointments and treatments, including mobile apps, calendars, and medical organizer books.

Ask your employer for accommodations, if necessary

Depending on your needs, your employer may allow you to work from home, switch to part-time, or take Family and Medical Leave (FMLA).

Transfer to an online college

Whether you’re currently enrolled in college, or you’ve been thinking of going back to school to embark on a new career, an online degree program will give you the flexibility you need to balance your learning with doctor’s appointments, cancer treatments, work, family, and other life responsibilities. Online college degree costs are also more affordable in many cases, which is another important consideration when you’re living with cancer and have out-of-pocket medical expenses.

If you’re ready to try this out for yourself, start by choosing an online degree program in fields such as business, technology, or education. An online bachelor’s degree program in education, for instance, teaches you skills that can be applied to your current and future job prospects — including those such as professionalism, leadership, and ethical practice. Plus, you’ll take just one course at a time, so you’ll avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Make Positive Lifestyle Changes for Better Health

When faced with a cancer diagnosis, Kickin’ Cancer also recommends making five vital lifestyle changes: eating real food, reducing stress levels, getting quality rest, moving your body, and building a support system. These lifestyle changes will help to improve your physical health and cancer care, as well as your mental and emotional well-being.

Something like learning a new hobby to better cope with cancer — especially healthy home-based hobbies such as meditation, exercise, cooking, or gardening — can have positive effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Gardening, for instance, reduces stress and improves mood — and it even counts as exercise. Check out expert online resources like HomeGardenHero to find gardening advice, product reviews, and other tips for taking up gardening as a hobby.

Some other ways to improve your mental health (and possibly your physical health) while dealing with a cancer diagnosis include:

  • Journaling.
  • Aerobic activity such as biking or swimming.
  • Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
  • Drawing and painting.

In Conclusion

The life changes that come along with receiving a cancer diagnosis are challenging, there’s no question there. But by making an effort to focus on the controllable — like completing the college degree you’ve been dreaming of or taking up a new mood-boosting hobby such as gardening — you’ll better cope with these changes and take back some control of your life.

Kickin’ Cancer is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports, educates, and promotes cancer awareness, helping those with cancer to thrive as they navigate their cancer journey. Visit to learn more about what we do, to make a donation, or to get involved.