Receiving a difficult diagnosis is a frightening experience. No one wants to hear that they or someone they love has a serious health condition. As a health advocate, I think it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the sudden need to make major decisions when you probably don’t know much at all about the condition. Here are some tips that can help you get through this difficult time.
• Give yourself a break – I really mean this. Unless your doctor is insisting the health threat is so serious that you must make a decision right now, I recommend giving yourself some breathing space. Take some time to process the news. Talk to the people you care about and start to pull together a network of people you can turn to for advice and overall support.
• Be your own advocate – I believe each individual is best suited to be his or her own best advocate. After all, who knows you better than you know yourself? You know your own priorities and values and what is most important to give you the best quality of life as you work through the illness. But if you just can’t wrap your head around what is going on, either because it’s too frightening or because you are too sick, decide who you can trust to help you make decisions. Part of being your own advocate is assembling your own support team. For some people, that means handing over control of the decision-making process to someone else.
• Think positive – Your mind is a powerful tool that can help you accomplish great things. So set your mind to getting better. Don’t dwell on what you think might go wrong. Don’t concentrate on “monsters in the closet” that your imagination created. When I receive a new diagnosis, I try to set myself up to succeed by reinforcing my own belief that I will be able to make a solid, informed decision when the time comes.
• Do your research – You can’t make an informed decision if you don’t have the facts. So dig in and learn as much as you can about the condition. That’s the reason why I created EmpowHER.com – to give people a place to turn to find answers when they need them in language they can understand.