You’ve just been told you have skin cancer. While this will take your mind on a spin, keep your chin up and start taking better care of your skin as well as your loved ones. Damage has already been done, and this is the time to limit complications by avoiding the sunlight as much as possible. Even though the sun is one source of vitamin D, there are other options out there to give you this vital nutrient. Just don’t spend too much time indoors that you forget what it means to have fun.
Being diagnosed with melanoma definitely changes your life as well as some decisions you make afterward. This is a turning point that needs you to focus more on skincare and following your prescribed therapy. Apart from medical interventions, there are specific things you can do for damage limitation.
Even with successful treatment, there’s still a possibility that melanoma will recur. But you can protect your skin with these tips:
- Always avoid sun exposure during peak hours; between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when ultraviolet (UV) rays are highly lethal.
- Never leave your house without applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 50. Carry an extra bottle for use every two hours and after sweating, swimming, or skiing.
- Wear protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats.
- Your eyes are also susceptible to UV damage and should be protected using UV-protective sunglasses.
- Some chemotherapy drugs increase the sensitivity of your skin to sunlight (photosensitive drugs) and should be used with caution.
- Take some time each month to inspect your skin to check for new or changing marks. Remember to go for regular checkups.
Talk about it!
After the diagnosis, you may find solace in confiding in others. Talking to other people can be soothing. However, don’t share details that are inappropriate or ask questions that will make others uncomfortable. Don’t talk about awkward topics that shroud the room in silence.
- Remember, it’s not only you going through this ordeal. Let other people share their experiences because it is not always about you.
- Know who you are talking to and how much information you are willing to share.
- If it’s not comfortable talking about your diagnosis, direct people to a website or have your confidants and family members answer some questions for you.
- You don’t have to answer all questions but can always change the topic.
Sex After Melanoma
Early diagnosis improves the prognosis. In advanced disease, chemo and other diseases may drain you out. You can spice your life with these simple tips:
- Try positions that are easy for both of you; for instance, you and your partner lying on your sides.
- Chemo drugs can be detected in semen or vaginal fluids up to three days after use. Use a condom (even for oral sex) to avoid the transfer of chemicals.
- You may experience low sex drive after some treatment. Talk to your caregiver about ways to handle this problem.
- Exposure to radiation or chemo can suppress your immune system. When this happens, don’t have vaginal or anal sex to reduce the risk of infections.
Your diagnosis shouldn’t change your workout routine. However, there are things you will need to adjust:
- Don’t max out immediately after surgery, no matter how small. Vigorous exercise could tear your stitches.
- Work your way back to regular fitness. While melanoma treatment could have impacted your stamina, gradual workouts will bring you back to tiptop condition.
- Schedule your exercises when you are most energetic.
- Your doctor will recommend the best routines to start with the recovery.
Proclaim Cancer Holidays
Skin cancer is a big blow, but it shouldn’t mean you cannot have fun in your life. Go to places that will take some of the stress away, visit friends and family for some quality time, and just enjoy your hobby.
Celebrate each success during therapy, big or small. You can invite people for dinner when you are through with chemo, or go wild when declared cancer-free.
It is recommended that you stay active and positive because this extra push boosts your immune response.
Look after yourself
The possibility of developing additional skin cancers, or recurrence of the original cancer, shouldn’t pin you down. It would be best if you struck a balance between living life and caution. While this seems like a scary prospect, you don’t have to act like you are walking on eggshells. Your quality of life can be improved by constant communication and frequent checkups by your management team. Extra skincare and examination are imperative. Your partner will help look for marks in hard-to-reach areas.
Cancer and accompanying treatment can influence your lymphatic system. This system is composed of lymph nodes and some parts of the circulatory system. If lymph nodes are affected, the production of antibodies is reduced, and your immune reaction will not be as strong. Another complication is swelling of limbs, also known as lymphedema. When this develops, the skin will stretch, and some spots will become shiny, change shape, color, or reduce your ability to detect changes. Basically, your skin can look different and will need you to visit a health care provider as soon as possible. The first step in recovery is taking the lead in looking after your own wellbeing.
Stick to the saying, “no man is an island.” You can’t live off your own providence and need people around you once in a while. This might be a partner or close friend who will share this journey with you. It’s perfectly normal to enlist a confidant to stick with you to help you with skin checks and daily routines.
No matter how well you are, or if you have a caregiver to look after you, there are other ways you can find support in your life. Try out different support groups, websites, educational resources, podcasts, and other networks that go beyond the hospital, family, and friends, so that you have a more comprehensive support system when you need a helping hand during the course of recovery.