Minimizing Skin Cancer
Last updated: October 2023
I was first diagnosed with skin cancer in June 2018. Since that time, I have come to see that there are many unpleasant, difficult parts of living your life on a skin cancer journey.
Living with scarring
A skin cancer journey necessarily includes a lot of fear about what lies ahead, frequent skin checks, and in my case, the difficult wait associated with very regular biopsies. In many cases for those on a skin cancer journey, regular surgeries are also to follow. While none of my surgeries have been positive, happy events in my life, the surgeries to my face were the absolutely most difficult for me, and I had four surgeries to my face in 2018 and resulting in visible scars.
Skin cancer fears often minimized
Recently, I was at a religious event, and the leader asked for prayer requests. I raised my hand and offered that I have an upcoming skin check with a new dermatologist, and I would appreciate prayer for my ongoing skin cancer. The leader did not miss a beat and responded, “That sounds annoying.”
I sat there quietly, but I did not have a good feeling at all about the leader referring to my ongoing skin cancer journey as “annoying.” The really sad part about the leader’s discounting comment is that it was nothing new to me.
The most difficult part of my skin cancer journey has not been the ongoing fear, the many biopsies I have had, the surgeries, the anxiety associated with all the watching and waiting, or the medical direction and my decision to live a life with “limited sun exposure.”
Rather, the most difficult part of my skin cancer journey has been the repeated minimization of skin cancer and what I am going through as a result of my skin cancer.
The most difficult part of my skin cancer expereince
But what is minimization? Minimization is a psychological term that refers to someone referring to something as insignificant or unimportant. Said another way, it means that someone downplays the significance of an event or emotion or underestimates the importance of that event. The psychological term minimization is the opposite of the term exaggeration.
I have given a lot of thought to the fact that I have had numerous people minimize my skin cancer journey, and I have tried to come up with the best way to handle it. For a period of time, I decided I just would not tell anyone about my skin cancer. If I had to be on guard that they were going to minimize my ongoing, difficult struggle, then I would just not tell anyone.
Deciding if its worth talking about
More recently, however, I have decided that if I decide to disclose that I am on a skin cancer journey, I will lead off the conversation with something like, “This has been very difficult for me ...” This gives my audience a heads up that this has not been easy for me, and I do not want to hear a minimizing response referring to what I am going through as merely “annoying.”
The jury is still out on this most recent approach, but so far it has worked well for me.
What about you? Has your skin cancer been minimized? If so, how did it make you feel? Have you come up with an approach to handle it?
Do you sunscreen in the fall?