Brittany DeGreef, a genetic counselor, provides essential advice for when you are facing a cancer diagnosis emphasizing that leaning on supportive friends and family is key. Download the Office Visit Planner and bring it to your next appointment here.
Brittany Degreef is a Genetic Counselor at Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. More about this expert.
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One piece of advice I give patients who are just diagnosed with cancer – and we do frequently see patients at least once a week who were just diagnosed either that week or the week prior – is feel what you need to feel. Not every patient is going to react or cope with their diagnosis in the same way as someone next to them, even within the same family. That also goes for caregivers and relatives.
So, just because you feel like helping out a relative in a specific way, it might not be the same for your brother or sister or cousin.
So, we always tell patients that there is no wrong or right way to cope with a diagnosis of cancer. The way that you approach it is perfectly fine and there’s no right or wrong way to do that.
So, another piece of advice we always tell patients is don’t be scared to lean on your support network, whether that be family or friends, your healthcare provider, advocacy groups, never be afraid to ask for help.
And for some patients who feel like they have limited resources, usually hospitals where you’re receiving your patient care has many resources available to you, whether that be emotional, financial, spiritual, logistical. Don’t be scared to ask about those resources.