- Cancer Information
- Coping with a diagnosis
- Emotions and cancer
- Your coping toolbox
- Gathering information
When you are first 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 need just the information that relates to your situation right now, or a way of dealing with the information that you already have.
Look for reliable information
Make sure your information comes from recognised cancer experts and is based on strong evidence. Cancer Council has booklets, online information and podcasts about different cancer types, treatments and issues. Some information on the internet is not trustworthy – see a list of reliable websites.
If you are unsure or confused about anything, 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. See a list of suggested questions. You can also call Cancer Council 13 11 20 to discuss your concerns with an experienced health professional.
Involve other people
Ask people you trust to help gather and make sense of new information. You could also ask your partner or a close family member or friend to come to your appointments with you. Let them know if you’d like them to take notes 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 clinical trials 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.
Keep a diary
You can use a paper diary or smartphone app to keep track of appointments and side effects. This will also be a useful record in the future (especially if you are seeing different health professionals).
Update your affairs
Many people with cancer review their insurance and superannuation policies and update their will and other legal documents. This doesn’t mean you have given up hope – everyone needs to do these things at some point and you might feel relieved once they are done. Cancer Council’s Legal and Financial Referral Services can connect you with qualified professionals – call 13 11 20 to find out more.
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.Matt
Podcast for people affected by cancer
A/Prof Anne Burke, Co-Director, Psychology and Allied Health Lead, Cancer, Central Adelaide Local Health Network and The University of Adelaide, SA; Hannah Chen, Psychologist, Cancer Council Queensland; Hazel Everett, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cancer Services, St John of God Subiaco Hospital, WA; Shona Gates, Senior Social Worker, North West Cancer Centre, TAS; Dr Jemma Gilchrist, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Mind My Health and Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead, NSW; Sandra Hodge, Consumer; Dr Michael Murphy, Psychiatrist and Clinician Researcher, Prince of Wales Hospital, NSW; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Dr Alesha Thai, Medical Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Alan White, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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Practical advice and support during and after treatment