Advice to Those Newly Diagnosed

Last updated: September 2022

I think this is one of the most asked questions to someone who has cancer, and it has been over five years. I have been interviewed quite a bit and it never seems to fail that they always ask, “What advice would you give to those newly diagnosed?” it makes complete sense that this question would be asked because when you are diagnosed you seek answers.

Here are a few things that I always suggest when I meet a person who was just diagnosed with lung cancer.

Get a second opinion

Get a second opinion if needed. I was diagnosed at a local community hospital. I did not know anything about the hospital, I had never even been inpatient before let alone cancer. I didn’t know right away that I needed to get a second opinion and the psychologist that told me I had cancer even said, “you do not need to go to the city for treatment, we can help you here.” Which now I know was a big red flag.

When I contacted his office after the weekend and I could not get a solid answer on the next steps from anyone, we sought out better care and to this day I believe this choice save my life. At even my second opinion doctor referred my case to a colleague when she knew she could no longer help me, and I started the clinical trial in Boston. When that trial was completed (I had progression) I went back to my second opinion oncologist, and she is who I still see today.

Be your own advocate

The next thing I tell people is to be their own best advocate. But what does that mean?

My oncologist may make me feel like I am her only patient but, she sees hundreds of patients, and to be fair she is human. If you are unsure about something that is being said in your appointment, ask questions. I have been given the advice to ask if you can record the session so that you can go over it later and to make sure you do not miss something important that is said.

Another example of being your best advocate is if you ever find your self-inpatient at the hospital. If there is someone on your care team that is not helping you the way you need you can fire them and ask for someone else. My example of this was when I was not getting my blood thinner shot correctly.

Find your support network

Lastly, find support through a community. Whether that is a lung cancer patient-led Facebook group or a local support group find people who have been through what you are going through for support. I have found that the people who have gone through this can help make treatment decisions but also help with the mental health side of cancer and keep you grounded.

There are so many other tips and tricks for those who are newly diagnosed. What is your best piece of advice? Let us know in the comments.

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