Melanoma is a type of lethal skin cancer. Often developing from a mole, it is caused by mutation of the skin cells due to damage in their DNA. These mutations result in a tumor formation within the cells that contain melanin (the pigment that gives skin its color) in the epidermis. The color of a melanoma can vary from brown, black and pink to even being skin-colored. The primary cause is an acute exposure to UV light either from the sun, tanning beds or other sources. Though they occur primarily in the skin of leg or back, they can also manifest over the eyes, mouth or intestines. Thousands of people are killed each year due to this fatal disease.
Diagnosis of melanoma is often hard on the patient. After all, it is one of the most serious and aggressive cancers. It is not easy to live with the cancer as you and your family will find it very draining. All cancer patients need help and support.
If left untreated, melanoma leads to death. Fortunately, most melanoma cases are diagnosed early. If diagnosed during early stages, most cases of melanoma are curable. Late-stage melanoma (stages III and IV) is treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. For advanced cases, treatments such as immunotherapy (use of drugs that stimulate the immune system) and targeted therapy are used.
The symptoms of melanoma, treatments, side effects and costs are very challenging to bear. However, if you suffer from melanoma, you may find the following tips helpful while undergoing treatment and recovery.
Ask for Help
It is perfectly fine to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed, depressed or deeply worried. Call a trusted friend, your spouse or your doctor if you feel the need to. Having someone who could listen to your worries is often very helpful.
Joining a cancer support group can prove to be an effective way of dealing with day to day problems. Talking to a group of people who share more or less the same ailment would be a boost to your mental health.
Apart from that, you should ask for help if you feel uncomfortable or sick. You may experience the side effects of melanoma treatments. Chemotherapy drugs, radiation treatments and other medicines often cause strong side effects and you may have to call the doctor right away for medical care.
Learn to Detect the Signs of Depression and Anxiety
If you feel depressed or anxious, the best thing is to call your doctor. It is natural for anyone to have these feelings when facing a serious illness, so there is no need to feel guilty about it. Depression or anxiety can cause self-neglect and emotional discord. These must be avoided when receiving cancer treatment.
Contrary to what others say, depression or anxiety does not cause or worsen cancer. In case if hopelessness overwhelms you, call your doctor as depression and anxiety should be given medical attention as with any other symptom.
Maintaining an everyday journal about your feelings and thoughts would come in handy. Writing out your worries each day could help in managing your stress and fears.
Try Reaching Out to Others
Reaching out to others by considering your desire and capacity may prove helpful to your sense of well-being. Maintain an active social life. Be in touch with your close coworkers, friends, family members, other patients with cancer or those who survived it. Tell them your situation, your desire to get well or share your worries. Do keep some of your friends on call to help when you have an emotional breakdown.
Having melanoma is not a reason to be alone and away from the outside world. Being alone while facing a challenging situation often brings up feelings of depression and anxiety. What you have is common and many others are in a similar situation, so behave normal. Read hundreds of success stories about people who have come out on top by beating this disease. Keep yourself motivated every time.
Keep Yourself Healthy
You need to keep your body healthy for it to sustain melanoma treatments. Try to stick with a healthy diet and exercise daily. Well, this may prove to be challenging as treatments often cause side effects such as vomiting, nausea and weakness. Seek help from your doctor to manage these side effects.
Aside from eating properly, you must also learn to manage stress. Some good stress-relieving activities include exercise, listening to music, watching a good movie, meditating, having a massage, reading a book or having a pet. Try out yoga and meditation. They provide a range of benefits which would help you in the long run.
When going out of the house, carry UV protective gear like sunglasses and SPF (more or equal to 30) creams. Shield your skin in a proper manner so as to avoid the tumor from spreading further. Wear a wide hat and cover yourself with tight clothes (impenetrable to light rays).
Keep in Touch with Your Doctor
If you have melanoma, check with your doctor regularly so you will know about the condition.Getting Regular checkups is a must as melanoma can spread to different parts of the body. Keep track of your spot and look for any changes in that area or any developments in a different region of the body. Whenever you feel afraid or anxious, see a doctor. This is something you have to do. Keep up with lab appointments and clinic visits. Make sure to have a way of communicating with your doctor at any time.
Maintain a healthy relationship with your doctor and tell him every sign or symptom you experience. Melanoma can be survived with treatments and therapy. With the advanced medical technology available now, even melanoma at a later stage can be cured.