It’s here. You’ve heard the words, ‘you have cancer’. The doctors are busy charting the best course forward, and you are stuck, suspended and still waiting for information on what’s going to happen next. You may know what you are facing, but you still do not know the way forward.

This is a confusing and difficult place to be. The uncertainty can be almost unbearable, and on top of it all, you have to advocate for yourself and make quick decisions about your treatment and your life for the next months and years.

Often, advocating for the care that you need in such a confusing place can be difficult. It can be helpful to have concrete ways of thinking about these issues.

Thinking tools to try:

Good Day Bad Day

Try this to help you cope. For example, it’s good if:

Hopes and Fears

Try this to address your feelings, discover the core issue, and take action. For example, it’s good if:

  • I’m afraid of dying from cancer
  • I’m worried about the costs of treatment, taking time off work, unknown costs
  • I’m worried how my family will cope while I’m in treatment

Community Map

Try this to plan how to find the best medical team or help. For example, it’s good if:

Matching Support

Try this to plan how to find the best medical team or help. For example, they’re good if:

What’s Working – Not Working

Try this to analyse your concerns and to take action. For example, it’s good if:


Most of us experience lots of thoughts and emotions when we hear this about a close friend or family member. Doing something and saying all the right things feel very important and urgent. Simply asking, ‘what would be the most helpful thing I could do right now?’ is always a good start.

Dealing with your own emotions and thoughts about the cancer diagnosis of a friend or loved one is important too.