Tips for Managing Your Emotions
Discover additional tips that may provide some encouragement for people living with lung cancer.
Tips for Staying Positive
Helpful Tips: Creating a Lung Cancer Game Plan
Lung cancer doesn’t discriminate. No matter their age or overall health, each of our passionate patient advocates faced emotional and physical challenges and came face-to-face with the stigma the disease still carries. Throughout their journeys, they picked up useful tips and coping strategies which they hope will help others.
No one should feel alone while battling lung cancer. Leaning on family, partners, friends, or even your community may help you to deal with the range of emotions you’ll experience. But, sometimes discussing your diagnosis with someone who has never had the disease — even if it’s someone close to you — can be difficult. Many patient advocacy groups offer in-person and online support groups. They can also match you with a mentor — someone who has had a similar diagnosis but is farther along in their cancer journey, so you can benefit from their experience and guidance. Certain hospitals and cancer centers also offer “buddy” or “friend” programs, so you have the advantage of a “veteran” showing you the ropes. In addition, patient navigators (or patient advocates) can help you navigate your lung cancer journey: medically, legally, and financially.
Doctor’s appointments can be a good opportunity for you and your family to gain valuable insights into your disease and treatment plan. However, time with your oncologist may be limited, so it’s always a good idea to prepare your thoughts and questions in advance. Rank your concerns and ask the most important questions first. Ensure that none of the important details gets lost once you walk out of the doctor’s office by asking someone from your support team to join and be a note taker, or ask your doctor if you can capture the conversation on your smart phone. You may also want to bring along information you have been given by friends, or that you found online, to get your doctor’s opinion.
Listen to Your Body
It is important to listen to your body throughout your cancer journey. During treatment, you may have more energy or a better appetite on some days than others — and that’s okay. Rest when you need to, eat when you need to — you know your body best and what you need to tackle this disease. You may also see a change in your activity level after treatment — you might get tired more quickly or experience shortness of breath. Set small goals for yourself to rebuild your strength and explore activities that fit within your “new normal”.
Overcome the Stigma
Although anyone with lungs can get lung cancer, there’s still a widely held belief that it is a self-inflicted disease. People who are or were smokers often blame themselves for developing the disease, and those who haven’t smoked may feel ashamed or guilty. Stigma can also hold people back from speaking up and asking important questions about their care. While it may be tough, it’s more important to focus on your treatment and recovery. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, explore your spirituality, or channel your energy into educating others about the disease.
Be Your Own Advocate
With the stigma people living with lung cancer face, advocating for yourself can take on new meaning. Here are a few ways you can self-advocate: ask for a second opinion, speak up if you’re having trouble understanding an explanation or medical words, ask your healthcare team where you can find additional information about your disease, and do your research when it comes to making care decisions.
Make a Difference
Lung cancer kills more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer combined. Yet, federal research funding for lung cancer lags behind, and stigma continues to plague those impacted by this terrible disease. If you are touched by lung cancer — a survivor, a loved one, or a professional working with people living with the disease — consider ways to raise awareness. Get involved with your local patient advocacy group or cancer center. Through these organizations, you can share your story, volunteer, or serve as a mentor for someone who needs support.