Receiving a cancer diagnosis and going through treatment can make you feel as if you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. This is especially true for young adults. You may feel shocked, afraid, angry, sad, embarrassed, and lonely as you start treatment. Over the course of your illness you, like many other young people, may also feel hopeful, determined, and optimistic. These are often referred to as the psychosocial effects of cancer treatment. Just as you talk with your treatment team about the physical side effects of cancer treatment, it’s also important to talk about how you are feeling emotionally.
Depending upon your age and cancer type you may be treated at a children’s hospital by a pediatric oncologist, or at a university hospital or medical center by a medical oncologist who treats adults with cancer. A growing number of hospitals, including many NCI-Designated Cancer Centers, offer psychosocial support programs designed for young people with cancer. These programs may include art therapy, music therapy, adventure-based programs, fertility preservation programs, and young adult support groups.
Next Steps after a Cancer Diagnosis
As a young person, you’re probably new to the health care system and haven’t yet had to make major health decisions. Use the strategies listed below to gain a sense of control as you begin treatment.
Learn about your cancer type and treatment options. Being knowledgeable about the type of cancer you have and your treatment options can help you play an active role in your care. There’s a lot of information online and not all of it is relevant to your specific cancer diagnosis or to cancer in young adults. Keep in mind that based on your age and cancer type you may be treated according to a pediatric cancer treatment