How can I cope with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis?

John A. Chabot
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
There may be times when patients may find comfort in writing in a journal, joining a formal support group, or seeking individual counseling. Patients may find it easier to fully express themselves in these settings. Additionally, patients may find value in talking with other individuals who are also dealing with cancer. Other patients can often validate feelings, share experiences, and provide companionship. Besides providing another source of information, support groups can provide opportunities for patients to help other people cope. Many find this process of helping other people with their care rewarding and empowering.

Let’s be honest.  Cancer is a scary word. Nobody wants to hear it in association with themselves or loved ones. How you cope with a cancer diagnosis will likely reflect how you have coped with other serious situations in your life. You might find that way of coping will need some adjustments.

If you have typically been a very independent person who takes charge of situations, you may have to adjust to reaching out to family and friends to be more forthcoming about your needs. Asking for help will let you focus your energy on getting well.  Conversely, if you typically ignore bad situations, you won’t be able to ignore this diagnosis for long. It’s not going to go away without intervention.

No one handles stress the same way.  And getting a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer will be scary and stressful and awful.  The most important thing is to listen to your body AND your heart.  If you feel like taking a hot bath, turn on the water. If you want to lock yourself in the closet and scream, do it.   If you think you'll benefit from a support group, find one and attend.  You’re allowed to take a time out from cancer. That’s why they call it “living with cancer.” You’re in charge, not the cancer.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.