Debunking common cancer myths

Being diagnosed with cancer is daunting not just because of the illness itself, but because of everything that goes along with it.

Getting to grips with the diagnosis, what it means, how it will impact your life is no small feat. More than ever, there’s resources and information available to help people through cancer, but this can also lead to misinformation and misunderstandings.

Today we’re looking at some of the most common cancer myths, and revealing the truth behind them.

Myth: A cancer diagnosis is a life sentence

Reality: All cancers differ, but thanks to advances in research and treatments, today 50% of people with cancer will now survive ten or more years. Many cancers have even better survival rates when detected early. Speak to your doctor or specialist and get informed about the kind of cancer you have been diagnosed with, and take each thing one step at a time as treatment gets underway.

Myth: Life stops when you have cancer

Reality: A cancer diagnosis changes life dramatically, but doesn’t necessarily mean it will stop altogether. Depending on your symptoms and treatments, daily life will look different for a period of time, but many people are able to continue on with their routines and function as normal for extended periods as well. For example, there are medicines that help treat symptoms, and many cancer treatments can be undertaken as an out-patient, meaning you may be able to avoid long hospital stays. As you work with your doctor to create a treatment plan, don’t be afraid to ask questions about how you can continue to do the things that are most important to you.

Myth: I won’t be able to work when I have cancer

Reality: Depending on your situation, it may not be possible or preferable to continue working. Many people who are able, however, choose to continue with their jobs to provide a sense of purpose, normality and financial security. With the help of a supportive employer, and some revised rules around working hours, flexible working and managing workplace stress, in many instances you won’t necessarily have to give up your career altogether.

Myth: I need to be positive at all times

Reality: Keeping a positive outlook can definitely help face the many challenges that a cancer diagnosis brings, but you should never feel that you have to put on a brave face and pretend. It’s natural to experience worry and fear, and when you’re coping with the symptoms of a serious illness and sickness from treatments it can be incredibly difficult to stay positive at all times. Instead, focus on putting in place a good support system and surround yourself with people with whom you can be honest with about your fears, turn to to help you manage new challenges and also rely on to help you stay positive. Having people around you – including friends, family, doctors, counsellors, and charity advisors –  to help with everything from sorting out your finances to driving you to important appointments can lift some of the heavy burden so you can concentrate on getting well.

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