10 Tips for Living with Cancer

A small plant with one dry leaf
  1. TAKE ONE STEP AT A TIME, AND MAKE ONE DECISION AT A TIME: If life feels overwhelming, take small steps to find your best path. Talk, listen, and learn. In time, you will have the information you need to make the right decisions for you.
  2. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU NEED: Be aware of your feelings. Focus on activities you enjoy. Try to find humor in each day. Seek out people who help you feel relaxed or happy. Spend time alone if you need to. Some days you may not know what you need, and that’s okay too. Be kind to yourself.
  3. BE YOUR OWN BEST ADVOCATE: You may feel frustrated by changes to your life. Talk with your medical team and your family and friends. Work together to come up with a plan that gives you as much control as possible over your treatment and care.
  4. COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY WITH YOUR HEALTH CARE TEAM: Let your health care team know how you feel. Ask questions and ask again if you don’t understand the answers. Tell your team about your goals for treatment. Be sure they know how your treatment and symptoms are affecting your everyday life.
  5. GET HELP FROM OTHERS, BESIDES YOUR DOCTOR: Expand your health care team to include a patient advocate and other specialists. A patient advocate can help you find resources, manage insurance, and prepare legal documents. Other useful specialists may include a nutritionist to help with eating, a psychologist or social worker for emotional distress, a physical therapist for weakness, and a palliative care specialist for symptom management.
  6. MAINTAIN HOPE: Hope can make each day a little better. Accept that some days will be better than others, but try to enjoy small moments and do things that make you smile. Even if cure is unlikely, look for ways to find hope where you can.
  7. REACH OUT TO OTHERS WITH CANCER: It’s comforting to talk with people who understand what you’re going through. Try to connect with others online or in a local support group. 
  8. ASK FOR SUPPORT AND ACCEPT HELP WHEN IT IS OFFERED: Let your family and friends know how they can support you. Be specific if you can. Consider using an online schedule such as the Cancer Support Community’s MyLifeLine.org to stay organized and let friends know what’s needed.
  9. FOCUS ON NUTRITION AND EXERCISE: Healthy food provides nutrients to help your body. Exercise can lift your spirits, boost your energy, and reduce stress. Even minor efforts can help you feel better.
  10. KEEP A NOTEBOOK NEARBY: Use a notebook to keep track of side effects, take notes when you talk with your health care team, and remember financial or insurance details.