Want to Support a Loved One With Skin Cancer? Please Do
Last updated: July 2022
You might be the very person this article needed to find. Has a friend just texted you that she has skin cancer? Do you have a brother or grandparent who has a Mohs surgery coming up? Is your daughter having stitches removed following an excision? This article offers some tips for talking with your loved ones who have been diagnosed with skin cancer. We are getting smarter about protecting our skin, but skin cancer is still around, and there are more diagnoses every day. When you prepare yourself to be that supportive friend, there are some things you will want to keep in mind.
Ask what you can do to help
You may receive a quick “I really don’t know” in return, but your effort will be appreciated.Most of the time, your friend will simply want to talk–to get it all out. Frustration is real, and getting it off their chest will make all the difference on the worst of days.
Offer to be their appointment pal
Sitting in a waiting room and just being present for them when tensions run high makes a big difference. Checkups, surgeries, and follow-up visits after a procedure can bring on some emotional and anxiety-ridden days. When they are anxious and unsure of what is coming, you can be there to hold their hand, engage them in conversation and bring some normalcy to the situation.
Know that you don’t have to understand everything
Skin cancer comes with a lot of terms, numbers, and medications you may not have ever heard. You don't have to understand it all to be supportive. Sometimes, showing your support is as simple as making note of a few key words and using them in conversation later. Ask them the date of their Mohs surgery or ask how much longer they will have to use Efudex. They will notice that you are truly listening.
Check in from time to time
It feels like a small thing, but it actually means a lot. The healing process can be trying and the road seems long. Your calls and texts will go a long way to making your friend feel normal and less alone. If your loved one is treating with a topical chemotherapy like Efudex, or fluorouracil, they will need a ton of support. Efudex can be intense and isolating for many people. Making sure they don’t feel alone is important. When they don’t feel like making outings, ask if you can come to them. They will appreciate the gesture even if they don’t necessarily want the company. Give them time–they will come around.
Remind them of who they are
You know them, and you know their strengths. Don’t let them forget they’ve got this, even on their most difficult days. Don’t expect every day to be easy, but know they need to hear affirmations–we all do.
We all need support
As a skin cancer patient myself, I know the spots I have had removed seem small and insignificant to most people. It’s not the size of the spot, it’s the threat behind it. The emotional toll is great, and support from family and friends means everything. Be that person for someone in your life.
Do you sunscreen in the fall?