The Blessing of a Good Support System
Last updated: February 2023
You may have heard that having a good support system is key when you’re battling a health condition. I have heard it numerous times. The problem is, not all of us have the benefit of a good support system. I’ve read comments from more than a few of our community members who said they don’t have a support system. I’ve been in the same boat. I have had skin cancer for over twenty years but until I found this community, I mostly felt like I had been going it alone.
Some people just don't get it
Unfortunately, unless someone has had skin cancer, they probably don’t "get" it. They don’t understand the stress and anxiety brought on by doing skin checks, or noticing a strange new spot that wasn’t there the day before, or nervousness about an upcoming doctor’s appointment or procedure. Skin cancer isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. And as we all know, it’s not "just" skin cancer.
It's still scary after all this time
Even though I’ve had skin cancer for many years, a recent diagnosis threw me for a loop. At my six-month checkup with my dermatologist, she biopsied a place on my face that was just under my nose that she thought was probably basal cell carcinoma. I asked her what we would do if it was basal cell, because I knew my dermatologist wouldn’t do an excisional removal on my face (nor would I really want her to).
She said that if it came back cancerous, she’d refer me for Mohs surgery. And I panicked. I’ve never had Mohs surgery. My plastic surgeon removed all of my skin cancers until he retired in 2015. Fortunately, I’d not had any skin cancers on my face since he retired, so my dermatologist has been able to remove my skin cancers. My plastic surgeon had told me years ago that he wasn’t a huge fan of Mohs, and after doing some research on it I agreed.
But now my dermatologist was recommending Mohs surgery. I asked her what my other options were, as I would rather not have Mohs on my face. She asked why I was hesitant about Mohs, and we talked about it for a bit. She said she could also refer me to a plastic surgeon and that she would do whatever I wanted her to do as far as referring me if it turned out the area was skin cancer.
I share my skin cancer journey publicly on Facebook, so I posted about my biopsy. Friends posted words of support, but honestly, that day, I needed more than that. I truly appreciate the kind thoughts and “I’m sorry to hear that” messages, but I needed to talk with people who "get" it.
Some people do get it
So, I texted several of my fellow SkinCancer.net advocates in a group chat. Having been through this themselves, they were able to offer me not only support, but also share their experience with their Mohs surgeries. The chat lasted for quite a long time, and even picked back up the next day. This was what I needed. They were my support system, and they were there for me again once I got the biopsy result of basal cell carcinoma.
Find support where you can
Your support system doesn’t have to be a family member; it doesn’t have to be your best friend. Your family and/or close friends may not know how to best support you in the way you need support. I don’t always have a strong support system with family and friends, but I do have my fellow SkinCancer.net advocates, and I have this entire community. And so do you.
We're here for you
When we tell you that we are here for you, we mean it. You have numerous people (currently over 11,500) in our community who "get" it. Whether you have a question, or need to vent, or just want to share what’s going on with your skin cancer journey, we are here. You can count on that.
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