How to Be a Skin Cancer Patient
Let’s face it. There is a long, overwhelming list of things life for which life should offer an instruction manual. Parenting is probably the first one on the list. Along the same lines would be learning how to deal with becoming an empty-nester. Most folks I know would have loved a good booklet on how to "adult" effectively. Health scares are another area that hit hard and fast and really need a nice instructional guide. That's why it's helpful for us to share our skin cancer diagnosis stories.
If you are one of the almost 10,000 people diagnosed with a form of skin cancer daily, chances are high you would appreciate a good guide how-to course on being a skin cancer patient. You are not alone.
My skin cancer diagnosis story
My first skin cancer diagnosis was in 2007. I started off with a big one: melanoma. Since that life-changing moment, I have learned a lot about having skin cancer. It might not be the complete all-encompassing manual you are looking for, but I have pulled together some tips on how to be a skin cancer patient.
Don't binge search
Right off the top; this one is huge. Yes, it is entirely possible to read too much about your diagnosis, and you run the very real risk of traumatizing yourself with images. The internet is a wonderful tool, but it is a very frightening place when you are already shaken. If you are going to surf the internet, do it purposefully and look for doctors or dermatologists in your area and success stories.
Look for support
Do not, I repeat, do not go it alone. There are thousands of people diagnosed with one type of skin cancer or another every day. Remember that you have a huge network available to you, and Skincancer.net is one place to start that journey. A quick search on any social media platform will yield several options for skin cancer support groups. Take advantage of them. Their support and advice are invaluable.
Check your skin, but don't freak out
Regular self-checks are important. Documenting new spots and noting changes is even more vital. But know this: every spot you see won’t be cancerous. Educate yourself on the ABCDEs of skin cancer, but don’t become obsessed. Monthly checks, a keen eye, and regular check-ups are your best friends.
Be your own best advocate
Developing a good relationship with your physician is a must. When you have questions, don’t be scared to ask them. If you have concerns about treatments or side effects of medications, speak up. Your physicians are there to help you through your diagnosis. Keeping a running list of questions to ask at your next visit or feeling comfortable enough to make a quick phone call will make you feel much more at ease. It’s difficult to wait and wonder. Knowing you can communicate with your doctor’s office makes this whole process much more tolerable.
Just breathe. There will be difficult days. One of your hardest was the day you were diagnosed. The day after surgery will be another one. If you are facing treatment, you will see some dark moments. But you can do this. This community is widespread with fellow patients all over the world. Positive stories are just a click away.
Take time for yourself and practice self-care. You deserve it, and you will always have a community that understands on your side.
Do you have additional tips on how to be a skin cancer patient?
Have you taken our Beyond the Cancer Diagnosis Survey?