When I was first diagnosed, I was scared, angry and anxious but determined to move forward as quickly as possible to find out the type, stage and prognosis for my condition. The next several months involved a lot of doctors’ appointments, tests and procedures which confirmed an advanced stage anal cancer. I continued to work at my full-time job. I think keeping busy, having purpose and remaining focused on your wellbeing is an important part of staying sane through the process.
Having had personal experience confronting an anal cancer diagnosis with loved ones, we at the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation know how scary and confusing this diagnosis can be. We are here to help. Please Contact Us for assistance if you cannot find the answers to your questions below and on the site, or if there is anything you would like to discuss in greater detail.
The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation provides a Peer to Peer support program that has helped anal cancer ‘thrivers’ (our word for survivors) and their caregivers find compassionate support and companionship. This program and others like it may be sources of support for you even if you are not ready to tell others close to you. You do not have to face your anal cancer diagnosis alone!
If you have just received your anal cancer diagnosis or have a loved one who has just received a diagnosis, we hope the tips and information on this site will help provide you with the information you need to manage your anal cancer.
Step 1: Take a deep breath.
An anal cancer diagnosis is life-changing news, but there are always options and ways to make your new life with and after cancer as fulfilling as possible. We are here to help you.
Step 2: Make a list of all of your questions.
Taking time to organise your thoughts will be greatly beneficial when speaking with your healthcare and support providers and when seeking information and services on your own. For a starting point, see Questions to Ask Your Doctor.
Step 3: Understand your diagnosis.
Once you have listed your questions, take some time to understand what it means to be an anal cancer thriver. Helpful information may include:
- Anal Cancer Facts and Figures
- Facing an Anal Cancer Diagnosis
- Treatment for Anal Cancer
- Living with the Side Effects
- Causes and Risk Factors
- Fact Sheets
Step 4: Find an oncologist.
Your doctor will be the person who partners with you to manage all aspects of your cancer. It is therefore crucial that you trust this person and feel comfortable with them. This means emotional as well as physical comfort. You should be able to communicate well with your doctor in order to fully explain what is going on with your body so that they can provide you with the best care possible.
An oncologist may have been recommended to you at the time of your diagnosis, or you may have received a referral from your diagnosis team. You may be comfortable with this person or you may need or want to find a provider on your own. Resources for further exploration include:
Step 5: Find a support system.
This is often one of the most important pieces of managing an anal cancer diagnosis, especially once the initial confusion calms down. Support can come from your family and friends, from your community or religious group, over the phone or online. If you are not ready to tell people you know about your diagnosis, that’s ok, too. Either way, these resources may be helpful:
Our Peer Support program will match you with someone else who has experienced anal cancer
Step 6: Prepare for your appointment.
Bring your list of questions with you when you are meeting with your care provider or team and remember to be open with your clinician. Take some time to research some of the medical terminology you may start to hear at these visits so that you are fully aware of what to expect. Our Fact Sheets may be able to help you with this.
Here is some further information about anal cancer, human papillomavirus (HPV), and how to get involved in awareness and outreach. You may find this helpful not only for yourself but also for sharing with friends and loved ones, and even your clinicians.
- About HPV
- HPV & Cancer
- Take Action
- Guidelines and Toolkits for Clinicians (coming soon!)
- Research (coming soon!)
About the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation
The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation is here for you. Contact Us