Feeling Alone During Treatment in a Pandemic World
It's difficult enough to navigate our new normal during the pandemic. Let alone getting treatment for skin cancer such as Mohs surgery. In fact, you might be feeling alone during treatment in a pandemic world. I can't speak for everyone, but I remember both of my surgeries. My parents and husband were there for the first one. And during my second surgery, my parents had passed, but my husband and mother-in-law were there. Did I need someone there? Well, not necessarily. Yet, it is comforting to have people near you when you're going through something. Even if you've done it before.
Restrictions on having support people for treatment
Depending on where you live, many doctors are not allowing family members in the waiting room unless it's major surgery. And even then, some aren't. In fact, it's pretty common on a universal level right now. And with Mohs surgery being a low-risk procedure, unless your area has very few cases, you probably have to go it alone. According to the AMA, loneliness has major effects on our well-being.1 And while this refers to being alone constantly, it certainly seems that being alone during a procedure is difficult too.
How to cope with skin cancer treatment during a pandemic
One way to help yourself feel better is to know that your family is right outside. If you have family members like a spouse, parent, or child who would normally come with you, they can wait outside for you. Perhaps they can show up as you're finishing up. Or, take you to your appointment, leave, then come back. It's not the same as being there in the waiting room. And if you've had Mohs surgery before then you know there may be multiple passes. But, in our pandemic world, it's a start.
And one bright spot to keep in mind is that you can go home and be taken care of. Sure, you don't need major care but hey, don't we all want some TLC after going through a procedure?
Questions to ask your doctor about your skin cancer treatment
Just because it's the norm, doesn't mean your doctor is keeping everyone away. Ask your doctor if visitors are allowed and if so, how many. And be considerate of others, too. If there is limited space, don't have a lot of people show up just because you can. Try to keep it to a single person if it is allowed.
If visitors are not allowed, ask about being picked up and dropped off. Ask what the protocol is just in case there is a reason they need to be in touch with your support person.
Try to find out a general time length of your procedure just in case your visitor(s) has to come back to get you. You don't want to be waiting too long for someone to show up. Of course, it all depends on how many passes you have. I was lucky, and they got it all during the first pass. But I still had to wait for the results first, which took some time. You may even be able to text or call your visitor once you know you're clear, but before you finish up at the appointment, so they have time to get there.
Your doctor's office should be used to many of these questions and should give you the answers you need. And while they can't give you exact times, you can at least have an idea. If you're lucky, your doctor's office allows a visitor to wait for you safely. If so, make sure your support person follows all the rules like wearing a mask and staying six feet apart.
The pandemic process: You can do it
Going through skin cancer treatment is never ideal and during a pandemic seems to make it worse. But know that you're doing this for your health, and it's something that will be over soon, so you can get on with your life - healthy and happy. You might be feeling alone during treatment, but your support system is still there for you as soon as you're free to go.
How do you feel about being called a skin cancer survivor?