Cancer Support: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

When you have cancer, you may feel confused, alone, and scared. Your loved ones may feel this way too. But you are not alone. Other people are also going through the same thing. They know how you feel.

Talking with other people who have cancer can be very helpful. Support can come from your family and friends, health professionals, support groups, or your church. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Just telling your story and talking about your fears to someone else can help you feel better. Studies show that sharing your feelings with others can lower your stress level. If you don't want to talk to someone, writing down your fears may also help you feel better.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Join a support group

Cancer support groups meet often to talk about cancer and ways to cope with it. Some support groups are only for people who have cancer. Others are for their loved ones. These groups offer practical advice and emotional support.

In a cancer support group, you will share:

  • What it is like to have cancer.
  • What new treatments are available.
  • Practical ways to manage your cancer treatment and its side effects.
  • Encouragement to help you cope with your illness.
  • A connection to other people who are going through a similar experience.

Online support groups can be another good place to find support. Some people prefer to express themselves and share information this way.

In any type of support group, you can offer advice, support, and ideas to others about what has worked for you. Support groups provide a safe place for you to express some of the powerful emotions you are feeling.

Explore your spiritual life

Spirituality is a sense of meaning and purpose in life. It is a much bigger concept than religion. Religion is only one way people can lead a spiritual life.

Some people don't think of spiritual matters often. For others, it is a part of daily life.

Spirituality may involve a relationship to a higher power or an energy that makes life worthwhile. It can include feeling connected to friends, loved ones, or a meaningful job.

You may explore your spirituality through:

  • Organized religion. Some people find that cancer brings a new or deeper meaning to their lives. Organized religion can provide comfort.
  • Prayer or meditation. Some people read spiritual books.
  • Observing nature.
  • Volunteering in your community.
  • Strengthening your relationships.
  • Creating art, music, or poetry. Or you can choose some other way to express yourself.

Find the right support for you

Check out the information and support offered by national organizations. Some of these include:

  • National Cancer Institute (NCI). This is a government agency that provides up-to-date information about cancer and how to prevent, detect, and treat it. It offers the latest information about clinical trials. You can also contact trained staff with questions. Spanish-speaking staff members are available. Visit the website to contact the NCI.
  • National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). This network includes many of the world's leading cancer centers. It can help you make informed choices about cancer care. The NCCN, with the American Cancer Society, publishes NCCN Treatment Guidelines for Patients. These are easy-to-read resources about many cancers. Visit the website for information about NCCN.

Your local cancer program may know of support resources in your area. Ask for more information at your cancer center or doctor's office.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.