Don’t Let Cancer Define You: 7 Tips for Living with a Cancer Diagnosis


  1. Express gratitude for the simple things: a warm shower, buttered toast and the smell of rain. Practicing gratitude helps focus awareness on what is going well.
  2. Recognize anxiety triggers. An upcoming scan or doctor’s appointment, even walking into a medical office may bring up feelings of dread. Sometimes just recognizing anxiety can help dissipate some of the nervous energy.
  3. If you don’t quite have your pre-cancer stamina, find a new way to experience what you love. Do you enjoy gardening? Try floral arranging. If golfing brings you pleasure, don’t throw in towel if you can’t complete 18 holes; set up a putting green in the living room.
  4. Stay engaged in life activities. Don’t delay living life to the fullest and planning for more. Make vacation plans or enroll in a community art class.
  5. Get physical. If there is a universal remedy for any type of illness it’s “keep moving.” The body is made for movement; without it, muscles shrink and weakness sets in. Ask your healthcare provider for a referral to physical therapy to jump start your physical improvement program.
  6. Connect with others who are thriving in spite of a cancer diagnosis or other chronic illness. What are their coping strategies? Healthy support groups can be a place of refuge where your feelings can be validated by other people sharing a similar life experience.
  7. Have tough conversations. Talking about the future can be hard, especially if you are dealing with a life threatening illness. Sometimes just getting the conversation going is the problem. Here are some resources that may help:

Advances in symptom management and emotional/social support are anticipated, as more and more people continue to have the opportunity to live well with chronic, life threatening diseases like cancer.