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I Have Cancer. Now What? A Guide to Navigating Your Cancer Diagnosis

Read Time: 5 minutes

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Receiving a cancer diagnosis can cause fear, shock, and anxiety. You may be left with countless questions about what to do after finding out you have cancer. We are here to help you understand your diagnosis, answer questions about your cancer and care, and offer resources available to you here and beyond. You are not alone.

Below is a comprehensive overview to help you navigate what to do when diagnosed with cancer.

Understand Your Diagnosis

Cancer types and care teams: Learning about your type of cancer and care teams can help ease some of the anxiety. And understanding the type, stage, and extent of your cancer is important for making informed decisions.

Questions to ask your doctor: Huntsman Cancer Institute doctors are specialists in cancer care. Your doctor is a trusted resource for you. Ask them questions to learn information about your cancer and treatment options. If you don't understand something, ask your doctor to explain it better.

Common cancer words and phrases: Medical terms can be overwhelming. The words used by your care team may be new to you. Familiarize yourself with essential cancer-related words and phrases. Understanding them ensures you and your doctor agree.

Talk with kids about cancer: Knowing how to talk to children about when, why, and what they need to know may be hard to navigate. We are here to help guide you. Avoid making promises, let them know what they can expect, and encourage them to ask questions.

“Cancer is scary and overwhelming, and it is so important to me and my clinical team to help our patients through this journey. Every team member in the clinic plays a vital role to enhance that clinical experience. Open communication is key for us and our patients.”

Learn About Treatment Options

Treatments and services: There are many different cancer treatments and services available. Our experts are trained to offer the most advanced treatments with the best possible outcomes for you. View our comprehensive list and talk to your care team about your options.

Cancer clinical trials: Clinical trials test the safety and effectiveness of new drugs. Your care team may recommend a trial for you based on your type of cancer. You can also ask your doctor if a trial is right for you.

Side effects and symptom management: Cancer can cause symptoms that change daily routines. Treatments also often lead to side effects. We offer many resources to support you and your loved ones in managing those side effects.

Choose Your Care Team

Be the active center of your care team: You are the most important part of your care team—we always put you first. You should take an active role in your care. Ask questions, speak up, and seek resources. If something doesn't feel right, express your concerns. We’re here to help.

Seek a second opinion: Get a second opinion to ensure you are receiving the best care possible. You should always ask your doctor if there are other treatments you should be considering and if they offer it. Most insurance plans cover a second opinion and some require it.

Choose a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center: Where you are treated matters. Choosing an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center means that you will receive the highest level of care and better outcomes. We are the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center for Utah, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. Our experts treat patients throughout the Mountain West and around the world.

Importance of asking for help: Asking for support can be hard. But it is important to lean on friends, family, and support groups. You're not alone in your cancer journey. Emotional support is crucial, so learn how to ask for help and what to ask for.

“You will never be left alone to find your way without help and support. Our team will be with you and your family in a joint effort to maximize your health, find joy in the journey, and provide support for whatever is needed.”

Learn About Resources

Patient services at Huntsman Cancer Institute: We offer many services for you and your caregivers, family, and loved ones. These include financial advocates, an inpatient care guide, resources for new patients, the Cancer Learning Center, patient and family housing, and more.

Wellness and support: Finding out you have cancer is stressful. You may also worry about managing daily life. We offer many resources to support you during and after your cancer journey. Learn more about our Wellness & Integrative Health Center, support groups, rehabilitation services, and more.

Patient education resources: Have questions related to your cancer? You can always ask your care team or access our many online patient resources 24/7. You can search by cancer type, treatment, well-being, and more.

Find a cancer community online: A cancer diagnosis is very personal. It can be hard to share with those around you. But having a support system can help while coping with cancer. Learn more about ways social media can help and how to navigate misinformation online.

Create your new normal: Finding out you have cancer is life changing. But it doesn’t define you. While some aspects of your day-to-day life may change, you can create a new normal. Learn tips to help you redefine your cancer journey.

Explore Our Blog for More Information

Our blog is a helpful resource for you and your caregivers, family, and loved ones. We share tips for navigating your cancer diagnosis, stories from other patients with your cancer type, information from doctors about treatments, and discoveries from researchers in our labs. Start by reading this curated list:

Knowledge is your most powerful tool. By actively participating in your care, seeking information, and communicating with your health care team, you can better navigate your cancer journey. You are not alone. There is hope.

For more help and information, contact the G. Mitchell Morris Cancer Learning Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Cancer touches all of us.