"A cancer diagnosis can be scary, but don’t let fear take over your life," says Lavanya Yarlagadda, M.D., a hematologist-oncologist at LifeBridge Health.
Yarlagadda presented “Wellness Tips for Cancer Survivors” this week at the Alvin & Lois Lapidus Cancer Institute at Sinai Hospital. “Fear is a common emotion anytime you hear the word, ‘cancer.’ It is scary, especially if it’s a family member. It’s still scary for me,” she says.
“But fear is manageable. Always choose hope. Always. Even if it is not curable. Enjoy your life as much as possible,” Yarlagadda says.
There are ways of managing the fear including gaining a sense of control over what has happened to you. “Get organized. Know as much as possible about the medicine you have to take. Get as much information as you can about the disease,” she says.
And never underestimate how much your emotions can affect your health. “I tell my patients it is important to keep a very good attitude,” the doctor says. “And that can be with meditation, prayer, whatever it takes.”
Although, she adds, some times cancer happens even if we appear to be doing all the right things. “Some things are out of our control and that is just life,” Yarlagadda says. However, patients can severely lessen their chances of getting cancer by making nutritionally sound choices, exercising, not smoking and controlling stress.
Solicit family help and choose your friends wisely. “A diagnosis of cancer – or any illness – is a very tough time. Get support from your family, from your doctor’s office, through social workers or support groups or through friends.”
A final caution is to choose your friends carefully. “You have to pick your friends,” she says. “Friends who scare you and tell you horror stories, you should stay away from. People who tell you, ‘you can get through this,’ are people you want to be around.”