If You Are in Crisis

If you are in crisis, we encourage you to deal with shock and pain first.  Don’t rush into treatment, and don’t rely on alternative therapies if curative conventional therapies are available. Get a second opinion.

If you are newly diagnosed, experiencing a recent recurrence, or emotionally distraught, please recognize that you may need to deal with the crisis before you can focus on making informed choices.  

Here are a few guidelines:

Shock

Many people go into shock when receiving a cancer diagnosis. Shock is a medical diagnosis, and it's very hard to think straight when you're in it. If possible, postpone any non-emergency decisions about medical treatments until you recover from shock.  We recommend that you stay warm and eat nourishing food. Practice deep breathing. Stay close to people who care about you. As the shock wears off, you will begin to want to think about medical decisions.

Pain

If you are in pain, make every effort to alleviate the pain before you do anything else. One of the strengths of modern medicine is its ability to control most pain. On this site, you'll find complementary approaches to pain—cannabis is an excellent example. 

Don’t rush into treatment

Ask your physician how long you can take before you need to make treatment decisions.  Often, you can take several weeks or more to consider your options. Many people regret that they rushed into treatment without fully understanding the choices available.

Anxiety and Depression

You may be anxious or depressed about your diagnosis or situation. These are natural responses, and although you may want or need pharmaceutical support, other alternatives may also help. You may find any of these activities helpful:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Talking with family and friends
  • Finding a therapist
  • Interacting with a pet
  • Exposure to nature
  • Doing other things you love

Get a Second Opinion 

Physicians almost always get second opinions when they or a family member are diagnosed with cancer. Getting a second reading of pathology reports—ideally from an expert in the type of cancer you are diagnosed with—can be especially important. The pathology report indicates which treatment you should receive, so it's critical that it be accurate. Differences in reading and interpreting pathology reports are not unusual.

Don’t Rely First on Alternative Cancer Therapies

It can be risky to assume that you can start with alternative cancer therapies and ignore potentially curative conventional therapies or save them for later. We describe the wise use of alternative, complementary, and integrative cancer therapies on this site. If conventional therapies offer a high likelihood that the cancer will be treated and not recur, relying on alternative therapies alone is usually risky.

Work with a Professional Advocate or Navigator

Trained professional advocates and navigators are available to inform your choices about treatment options, guide you in your communication with your medical team, and relieve you of some of the burden of learning about a whole new field.

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