- Cancer Information
- When you are first diagnosed
- Emotions and cancer
- Your coping toolbox
- Gathering information
Once diagnosed, there is a lot of information to take in – and well-meaning family and friends may give you even more. This “information overload” can leave you overwhelmed and confused about what to do. You may only need information that is relevant to your situation right now or a way of dealing with the information you already have.
Look for reliable information
Make sure your information comes from recognised cancer experts and is based on evidence. Cancer Council has booklets, online information and podcasts about different cancer types, treatments and issues. Some information on the internet is not trustworthy – here is a list of reliable websites.
If you are unsure or confused about certain information, it can help to talk to your treatment team. Write down your questions beforehand and put them in order of how important they are right now. You can also call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to discuss your concerns.
Involve other people
Ask people you trust to help gather and make sense of new information. You could also choose a close family member or friend to come to your appointments with you. Let them know if you’d like them to take notes and/or join in the discussion.
Find out about suitable clinical trials
Your doctor or nurse may suggest you take part in a clinical trial. Doctors run clinical trials to test new or modified treatments to see if they are better than current methods. Over the years, trials have led to better outcomes for people with cancer. You can find trials online at australiancancertrials.gov.au.
Start a filing system for all your test results, information and records. You also have the option of using My Health Record, an online system provided by the Australian Government – visit myhealthrecord.gov.au to find out more.
Keep a diary
You can use a paper diary or smartphone app to keep track of appointments and side effects, and highlight missing information. This will also be a useful record in the future (especially if you are seeing different professionals in different locations).
Update your affairs
Many people with cancer review their superannuation and insurance policies, and update their will and other legal documents. This doesn’t mean you have given up hope âˆ’ everyone needs to do these things at some point and you might feel relieved once they are done.
There are many ways to connect with other people in a similar situation. Cancer Council runs face-to-face and telephone support groups, or can put you in touch with someone who has had a similar cancer experience. You could also join our online discussion forum. Find out more about support from Cancer Council.
The first thing is, I found it useful to read fact-based articles about the cancer I had. The second thing was doing physical activity that needs a high degree of concentration. And the third thing was talking in a peer group. I found those three things very useful in managing fear.
Dr Anna Hughes, Liaison Psychiatrist and Psycho-oncologist, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Mary Bairstow, Senior Social Worker, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Anita Bamert, Psychologist, Cancer Council Queensland, QLD; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria, VIC; Sally Carveth, Assistant Coordinator, Cancer Support Leader Program, Cancer Council NSW; Matt Featherstone, Consumer; Dr Charlotte Tottman, Clinical Psychologist, Allied Consultant Psychologists and Flinders University, SA; Shirley Witko, Senior Social Worker, Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.
Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment
Cancer and your finances
Learn how to manage your finances during and after your cancer treatment
Clinical trials and research
Learn how to make an informed decision about taking part in cancer research and clinical trials
View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends