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October is splashed in pink to bring about Breast Cancer awareness. It’s also a good time to remember that any individual diagnosed with breast cancer was, at one time, sitting in their doctor’s office, awaiting the life-changing news of their diagnosis. What if this were you? It might not be a cancer diagnosis, but perhaps another serious medical condition. How do you think you would handle it? Here is some counseling advice to help you or a loved one accept and process bad news about your health.

Let the Feelings Flow
Expect that there’s going to be a roller coaster of emotions after receiving a serious diagnosis. It’s important to let your feelings flow. If you try to bottle everything up and hold on to your emotions, you’ll end up adding to your stress and risk breaking down in a more debilitating way in the future.

Get the Facts
The more you know about your diagnosis, the better equipped you’ll be to understand what’s happening or will happen. This doesn’t mean you have to dive head first into WebMD or go into the depths of Google searches. The material you find might not apply to you and may therefore be needlessly alarming. Start by taking in small increments of information during the first few days and weeks. Direct questions toward your medical team of doctors and nurses. For more in-depth information, ask them about trusted sources of medical material you can review on your own.

Partner with Your Medical Team
Seek a second opinion when it comes to your diagnosis and treatment plan and settle on the team you feel most comfortable. Question your doctor when you don’t understand something, or feel your concerns are not being heard. Consider alternative treatment strategies, such as meditation, massage, or acupuncture. And, as always, embrace a healthy lifestyle by exercising, eating a balanced diet, and keeping a positive mindset.

Advocate for Yourself
You must ultimately take responsibility for your health and how your treatment unfolds. Help your doctor understand who you are as a person, not just as a patient. Take some time to write down points you want to convey regarding your priorities, and what’s important for you in treatment. Also, keep track of your body and its changes. Home monitoring can bring valuable information to your doctor throughout the course of your treatment.

Ask for Help
Counseling is not just for people who struggle with mental health issues. Including a therapist in your health care team can be a critical addition. Your doctor will help treat your body, and you’ll need to take care of your mind. You may experience sadness, anxiety, grief, fear or post-traumatic stress in response to this life changing event. Discussing these feelings with a therapist can help you strengthen your emotional well-being, provide a sense a relief, and help tip the scales in your favor as you fight this new battle. A therapist can also help you develop coping mechanisms to assist you in taking control of your overall mental health.

If you are unsure if counseling is a good fit for you, take advantage of our free consultation. We’re here to help you navigate your feelings, and where you are now, to where you want to be in the future.

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