Step 1: Take the Time You Need

Next Steps After Your Diagnosis

Take time to breathe. Don't panic, and don't feel pressured into making a rush decision.

—Alexis, cancer survivor

A Diagnosis Can Change Your Life in an Instant

Like so many other people in your situation, you might be feeling one or more of the following emotions after getting your diagnosis:

  • Afraid.
  • Alone.
  • Angry.
  • Anxious.
  • Ashamed.
  • Confused.
  • Depressed.
  • Helpless.
  • In denial.
  • Numb.
  • Overwhelmed.
  • Panicky.
  • Powerless.
  • Relieved (that you finally know what's wrong).
  • Sad.
  • Shocked.
  • Stressed.

It is perfectly normal to have these feelings. It is also normal, and very common, to have trouble taking in and understanding information after you receive the news—especially if the diagnosis was a surprise. And it can be even harder to make decisions about treating or managing your disease or condition.

Take Time To Make Your Decisions

No matter how the news of your diagnosis has affected you, do not rush into a decision. In most cases, you do not need to take action right away. Ask your doctor how much time you can safely take.

Taking the time you need to make decisions can help you:

  • Feel less anxious and stressed.
  • Avoid depression.
  • Cope with your condition.
  • Feel more in control of your situation.
  • Play a key role in decisions about your treatment.
Current as of October 2012
Internet Citation: Step 1: Take the Time You Need: Next Steps After Your Diagnosis. October 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/diagnosis-treatment/diagnosis/diaginfo/diaginf2.html