We’re often re-evaluating our own health, and considering how our lifestyle impacts on our overall well-being.
For anyone that lives with cancer or a chronic condition, health can be all consuming - as it impacts daily decisions around work, finances and how we interact within society as a whole.
Often, following a diagnosis there can be a lot of confusion on what it means, the impacts and how to move forward.
Whilst you may have a good GP or specialist, it’s important to know the right questions to ask, and find support around your condition. Being informed and having a clearer understanding means that you can make better decisions and manage your health the way you want.
If you start off a diagnosis without much information or support, here’s a few suggestions on what you can do:
1. Find an Online Community
Whilst Dr. Google is never a good idea, finding an online support group through places like Facebook, Instagram or Reddit can help to connect you to others with a shared experience. These places can offer support, advice and a new perspective around your condition/s. Asking questions and connecting with others can help to give a clearer understanding of your health journey (no matter what stage you’re at).
2. Contact a Dedicated Support Organisation
There are A LOT of organisations dedicated to specific conditions. They can offer support, advice, information and dedicated time to help individuals navigate their health. Often these places are Not-for-Profits (NFPs) or charities, and they have a lot of experience and personal insights to what you are experiencing.
3. Listen to a Podcast
If in doubt, search a podcast on your diagnosis - there’s usually one on everything (!!) It can give you a new perspective, some genuine conversations and suggestions on how to manage and navigate your health through lived experience.
Listening to real people sharing their health journey can help to understand the best approach to treatments, specialists and questions to ask. Having these insights early on can help to take away additional stress.
4. Getting the ’Second Opinion’
Asking another doctor or health professional (it’s okay - you’re allowed).
For me, managing a number of different chronic conditions means that I have a lot of different doctors who communicate differently. This is normal. Doctors are humans, just like us and everyone has a different approach.
This meant that I had to find the right person to help me understand a condition. This involved going to find (multiple) second opinions. Prioritising clear communication, asking meaningful questions and keeping on top of my notes meant that I understood, was better informed and could manage my expectations.
Finding out what works for you is important, as health has a huge impact on your life. If you’re better connected, have access to a community and can find the right fit within your medical care team, you can ask better questions to get the support you need.
Understanding your health is key to better health outcomes, managing your health journey and finding clarity around your diagnosis. Through understanding comes better support, improved mental wellbeing and reduced stress (all of which make life a little easier) when navigating a cancer or chronic diagnosis.
Matt | Co-Founder at Mend
Through regular check-ins on your daily habits - sleeping, nutrition, social connection, mood and productivity, you can build your personalised health insights (through the Mend app).
Your Health, One Place.