woman trapped under a tube of efudex

Efudex RX for the Mind and Soul

Last updated: December 2021

Every day, people all over this great big world are preparing for medical procedures and treatments. They have been debriefed, given instructions, and told what to expect once they are finished and on their way to healing. Preparation is the name of the game. That’s the way it should be when facing any medical procedure or difficult treatment. It’s the least we should expect, especially regarding treatments and procedures dealing with the face.

Topical chemotherapy: Efudex

If you have been told to treat your face with Efudex, however, the above might not apply to you. Your preparation might consist of a prescription tube of cream waiting for you at your local pharmacy and a long list of unanswered questions along with questions about the questions you think you should be asking. I know; I’ve been there. The road to getting rid of precancers is paved with a million questions, feelings of confusion, and can be a highly emotional journey.

Questions about Efudex side effects

Treating your face with Efudex can be rough...No - it can be excruciating. Over the last several months, I have noticed an increasing number of people in online support groups coming forward with questions. Those questions range from, “Does this look normal?” to “Why am I treating for 2 weeks while others treat for 4 weeks?” In addition, many patients have serious inquiries about their own mental state. I have seen Efudex users ask, "Is it normal for me to feel so depressed?” and “I don’t seem to feel like myself. Could it be the Efudex?”

Efudex and depression

When you research the side effects of Efudex, it’s not likely you will find solid evidence regarding depression and this particular chemotherapy cream. However, many users I have encountered agree that using Efudex impacts our mental state, especially those who have endured treatment on their faces.

My emotional battle

During the summer of 2017, I treated the lower two-thirds of my face. Depression was definitely part of the process. I felt confined. Venturing outdoors was an emotional battle. Simply talking face-to-face with family and friends brought looks of pity I couldn’t bear to emotionally absorb. I could see through their eyes how striking the redness was and how much pain they assumed I was feeling - and they were dead on. It was extremely painful, itchy, and tight. Those three factors alone contributed greatly to my mindset.

No matter what I read regarding topical chemotherapy treatment, I can’t help but believe a certain amount of depression is normal. I won’t say that the drug itself brings about symptoms of depression, but I know for a fact that the results I experienced brought me down. As the hours turned into days and the days to weeks, I became more and more aware of the tingling, the desire to scratch my face, and the ever-intensifying tautness of my skin. I worried more and more about how my face looked and when and if it would ever look normal again. This is how I knew I was mentally impacted.

My empathy for Efudex newbies

The time I spent in 2017 treating my face was not my first rodeo with Efudex. I treated my chest prior to that summer and knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, that my skin would return to normal following treatment. It takes several weeks, even months in some cases, but treated skin does gradually lose the redness. As I sat feeling lost and alone, in pain and frustrated, I knew in my heart it would all be okay. It’s hard to believe when you look in the mirror, but it’s true. If I knew what to expect and still fell into a pit of doubt and despair, I knew how lost newbies must feel.

Where I find support

The Facebook support group I turn to is a real diamond in the rough. I can’t count the times I have leaned on its members for support on the hardest of days. There is nearly always someone online and willing to respond with encouragement and advice as members are located around the globe. See? There are so many of us truly in this together. They have been there, are there, and they know.

You are not alone

Whether you understand anything about your doctor’s instructions for Efudex or not, understand this: It is okay to ask for help. When things seem to be moving slowly, you can ask if what you are experiencing is normal. In the inevitable event that you feel you are alone and the only one struggling with the emotional toll of treating your face, you can reach out to the hordes of others who know and have been there. In your darkest hour in the middle of the night, you are never alone.

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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.

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