How To Cope With A Melanoma Diagnosis?
To cope: to struggle or deal effectively with something difficult.
“Cope” is a word that patients often use to describe how they live with and manage a melanoma diagnosis. We have three general suggestions and several additional strategies on how to cope with melanoma.
Remember what makes you happy. Whatever has given you pleasure and calmed you in the past will likely be helpful while coping with a melanoma diagnosis. Whether it’s talking to a spiritual advisor, hiking, or meditating, try to keep doing whatever has made you happy—it will likely still make you happy and important to continue while you fight this battle.
Strive for normalcy. Try to maintain a normal lifestyle as much as possible. Routine and normalcy can combat the “out of control” feeling that cancer causes.
Educate yourself. Finally, educating yourself on melanoma is important. Cancer can make you feel powerless, but knowledge is power, so it’s one way to take back some of that feeling of powerlessness.
Six Helpful Strategies
1. Gather Facts
Gather as much information as you can about your diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. This website is one of your best resources: We have information on everything from an explanation of pathology reports to lists of melanoma specialists across the nation. Each section is designed to lead you to the next one. Read everything to help you gather as many facts about your disease as possible.
2. Ask Questions
Take stock after you’ve gathered basic facts: What do you still need to know? Write a list of questions and bring them to your next doctor’s appointment. Make sure you know the answers to the following questions. If you don’t, ask them.
- What stage of melanoma do I have?
- What other tests or procedures do I need?
- What are my treatment options?
- How will the treatment benefit me?
- What can I expect during treatment?
- What are the side effects of the treatment?
- What can I do to prevent melanoma from recurring?
3. Accept Help
Friends and family will ask what they can do to help. Let them run errands, provide transportation, prepare meals, provide childcare, or help you with household chores. You’ll both benefit.
4. Talk to Peers
Sometimes it will feel as if people who haven’t experienced a melanoma diagnosis can’t fully understand how you’re feeling. It may help to talk to people who have been in your situation. AIM’s Peer Connect program pairs newly diagnosed patients with mentors according to criteria such as diagnosis, stage, age, gender, and preference of the person seeking support.
5. Think Health
Adequate sleep, healthy food, and physical activity are all important, especially when fighting cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider about diet and exercise recommendations, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.
6. Consider Finances
Once you understand your treatment options, talk with your insurance company to check coverage and out-of-pocket costs. Then consider how medical appointments and treatment will require absence from work or home, and how that might affect you financially. If you need financial help, AIM has financial resources listed on our helpful organizations page and your hospital or treatment center might also have resources to help. Many pharmaceutical companies also provide financial assistance.