YOUR DIAGNOSIS IS SERIOUS … WHAT NOW?

You just got the news that you’re very sick. To ensure your quickest, safest, and best outcome you must be actively engaged and lead you own care. As soon as you can balance your emotions, you will have to make important decisions about your doctors, treatment, care, and finances.

Click here for an even more detailed step-by-step explanation of each step.

LEARN

During the next few days, weeks, and months you must learn enough about your choices to make informed decisions. Likely, your doctor or health insurance provider has provided or will provide information specific to your diagnosis. This might be a pamphlet, web page, video, support group, app., or something else.

IT TAKES TIME

It will take time before you have processed your new diagnosis and balanced your emotions. It may take just a few days or several months. There are a wide range of emotions that people feel after getting a serious diagnosis. It’s important to realize that these feelings are all natural. It’s common to feel grief shock, anger, frustration, worry, and other emotions. It’s also common for people of any age to experience short-term changes in behavior after hearing such serious news.  Be reassured that in most cases your emotions and any physical changes like loss of sleep or diet are temporary. They typically start returning normal within weeks when there is support.  

KEY TIP: Science shows that you increase your chances for positive outcomes when you find at least one person, or a support group, you trust to talk to.

When you walk this journey alone, you increase the risk of things not working out for the best for many reasons. If there is no one in your life that you trust enough, consider finding comfort and support by seeking out and communicating with others who have experienced a similar diagnosis, and often recovery.

Shyness doesn’t matter in these groups. You can stay anonymous and just listen and learn from other posts and replies. Sometimes the comfort of being anonymous also lets you express your feelings to others who you hardly know, because you have shared a common experience.

You may also connect with care givers and family members as well as patients, both current and past. Support groups are often available in-person in most urban areas and online for anyone with a smart phone and/or Internet access. Here’s a link to hundreds of local and online support communities organized alphabetically by diagnosis.

KEY TIP: Trust, but research and verify everything you learn in chat rooms with your physicians and through published, peer-reviewed research and patient use cases.

If you’re emotions have not begun to balance within 30 to 60 days engage the support of your doctor. You’ll make better decisions once your emotions settle. It also is not advisable to make any immediate decisions regarding your health unless your doctor tells you that you must act quickly. If you must make a quick decision, seriously consider a second opinion from another clinician or experienced provider in as short a time as possible. You can stay within your network for the lowest cost or seek out world renowned clinicians at providers like the Cleveland Clinic, Stanford Health Care, and other major health centers for virtual second opinions within days.

KEY TIP: It’s a best practice to always contact your health insurance provider and ask questions until you understand any cost to you, and what you can do to get the lowest cost, highest quality care.

If your reactions to your diagnosis do not get better within a few weeks or if they get worse, ask your doctor about mental health counselors and support that is available. Click here for an even more detailed step-by-step explanation of each step.

Last revision: 08132022

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