Community Views: Advice to Those Newly Diagnosed with Skin Cancer
Being diagnosed with skin cancer can create a mix of different emotions; fear, anxiety, regret, loneliness, anger, and so many more. Advice from others who have also received a skin cancer diagnosis can be more insightful than the advice we hear from our doctors. So we asked our community members, “What advice would you give someone that has been newly diagnosed with skin cancer?” and we wanted to share the most popular answers! Our SkinCancer.net members shared a wide variety of golden advice on Facebook.
Seek out the best doctors
"Be your own advocate! Follow your gut, get a second or third opinion."
"Get a good doctor and if needed a plastic surgeon. I had Mohs then plastic surgery done 7 years ago and unless I tell them, no one can tell."
"Do your research for a good doctor that you can rely on and talk to. I had to have multiple surgeries because I didn’t research a good doctor the first time."
If you have doubts about your results or treatment plans, or if you feel that your doctor missed something, get a second (or third) opinion. It’s your responsibility to take care of your body, so don’t settle for less! Find a doctor that you are able to connect with and who fully understands your type of skin cancer. Don’t feel obligated to stay with one doctor if you don’t feel that your concerns are being heard.
Many procedures for skin cancer removal may leave unpleasant scars on our bodies. Community members have expressed worry about long-lasting scars which can leave us feeling anxious about upcoming procedures. If we had to choose between a wide, prominent scar vs. a smaller, barely noticeable scar, the latter would probably be chosen. Looking for a doctor or plastic surgeon that has many years of experience and has done similar procedures can help minimize the appearance of the scar after the surgery.
Don't wait to take action
"If you notice anything, and I mean ANYTHING, suspicious on your body, don’t wait to have it checked out."
"Find a skin cancer specialist immediately and fight to see them."
"It’s not just skin cancer. No matter what type of skin cancer you have, it is cancer and needs to be taken seriously."
After being newly diagnosed with skin cancer, it’s normal to feel scared or anxious. Others in your position have felt that way too. No one can tell you what is the “right” or “wrong” way to feel. Embrace your emotions, but don’t let them consume you. Take some time to scream, cry, or yell if you need to. Once you're done, pick yourself back up and seek treatment for your skin cancer now.
Get the treatment you need as soon as your doctor or surgeon can fit you in. You will conquer your fears the second you take the first step to win the battle with your skin cancer. Don’t give your skin cancer the chance to spread to other parts of your body. Take action now!
Protect yourself when outdoors
"Sunscreen, sunscreen, and more sunscreen. Every day of the year."
"You can’t change the past, but you can protect your skin from this day on."
"Start a new routine and invest a little bit of money on SPF clothing, sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, wide-brim hats."
UV light coming from the sun and from indoor tanning beds is the most common risk for developing skin cancer. After a skin cancer diagnosis, protecting yourself from the sun is a crucial lifestyle change to be made in order to decrease the risk of skin cancer recurrence. Protecting yourself from the sun doesn’t mean you must forfeit the things you enjoyed the most. However, you should be more mindful when outdoors and make a few lifestyle adjustments. This means avoiding direct contact with the sun by wearing sunscreen every day and using SPF clothing, even during cloudy days or winter months.
Don’t let skin cancer stop you from living your life
"Don't forget to live your life. Don't let it change your lifestyle entirely. Be smart and adapt."
"Know that you are not your diagnosis and it doesn’t define you."
"A skin cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence."
It's important to remind ourselves that fear does not own nor define you. After a skin cancer diagnosis, protect your skin should become a top priority, but that doesn’t mean you can’t engage in fun activities with loved ones. Live your life, but live it while making sure your skin comes first. Make sure to be consistent with protection and sun safety when enjoying time outdoors.
Find a support system you can confide in
"Take it a day at a time. Remember to breathe and remember you are not alone."
"Find a support system, and, many times that is not your family."
"Surround yourself with people that support you and lift you up, they will help you through your journey."
A journey with skin cancer is not an easy one, so find a strong support system to confide in. This could be a family member, a partner, or even a close friend. Appointments and procedures can be extremely tough to go through alone, so ask a loved one to accompany you. Skin cancer is an emotional rollercoaster ride, and surrounding yourself with people who can comfort you and bring positivity can make a huge impact.
Another reason to seek a confidant is to help you with your regular self-skin checks. When you're doing skin checks at home, you may need another set of eyes to make sure you didn't miss any spots. Research shows that individuals who perform regular skin examinations with a partner have played a key role in the early detection of skin cancer.1
Everyone is different
At the end of the day, you are your own statistic. Your body is different from everyone else's, and there is no case exactly like yours. Each suspicious spot, growth, or mole on our bodies will not look exactly alike which is why you have to be diligent with your skin checks. You are not alone in your skin cancer journey, even if at times it may feel like you are.
Find a community online that understands what you are going through and can answer any questions you may have. SkinCancer.net has a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter associated with the site where members are able to share their experiences and ask questions.
Do you want to share your diagnosis story?
How often do you go for a skin check?