1,000 Skin Cancer Treatments

As a radiation therapist, I have been a part of one thousand skin cancer treatments, but not one of them was mine. This prompts some people with skin cancer to reasonably ask this question: “How can you possibly be an advocate when you have never had skin cancer?”

Why I'm a skin cancer advocate

I am a skin cancer advocate because even though I have not experienced a skin cancer diagnosis first-hand, I am passionate about making sure that people in your position understand their treatment options. I am advocating for skin cancer care, regardless of my medical history, because I want those who I treat to get better.

People also tell me, “you don’t understand.”

They're right, I do not understand what you are going through at this very moment. I do, though, understand your skin cancer very well. I know where it has originated from, its size, shape, and what needs to happen for it to be eliminated. I understand the treatment you will undergo, as I have studied and perfected it for years. I understand the process by which the treatment will destroy your skin cancer and the stages of healing that you will experience following it.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Some other completely reasonable things that I often hear are:

“How can you know what I am feeling?”

I cannot, but I can listen. I have heard the concerns and fears of others in a similar situation to yours. I have been there for them through their treatment course, and, as their radiation therapist and a skin cancer advocate, have done my best to ease their fears. I am here to help you through this process, even if I have not been through myself. Your appointment time is about 10 minutes, and the treatment will only take me 30 seconds. Those other 9 minutes and 30 seconds are yours, and I am here for you if you need to express your feelings, no matter what they may be!

“You don’t know what it’s like!”

You’re right: I don’t know what it is like to have skin cancer. I can only imagine how it must feel to have a part of your body turn against you. I have not experienced the treatment that I will deliver to you, but I have studied it. I have asked each patient how the treatment feels, if anything is bothering them and if they have any side effects. I am ready to listen to you, and you can tell me what it is like; I would love to know. You sharing your experience with me will only help me improve the care I can offer you and all of my other patients.

“It is so hard to come in for treatment. You don’t get it!”

I may not know what struggles you have in your life, but I will do anything to help you receive your treatments. I understand that having to come in to see me multiple times in a week is an inconvenience. I make my schedule is extremely flexible, and I will work with you. I am here 8 hours each day; if you need to adjust, I am still here. If you miss your appointment, don’t feel bad. I am here all day no matter what; just give me a call. If it is easier for your appointment to be “sometime Monday afternoon,” we can make that work too.

“I hope I never have to see you again, no offense.”

None taken! I know you may associate me with skin cancer for the rest of your life, and that is fine. I do not take it personally. I knew what I was doing when I got into the field of treating cancer. I hope, maybe, if you do happen to cross paths with me again, I am not a reminder of a struggle but of your triumph.

These one thousand skin cancer treatments may not be listed on my medical history, but they are a part of my life. And so is being a skin cancer advocate.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.