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Coping with melanoma

Men and women discussing melanoma skin cancer

This page tells you about coping with melanoma skin cancer. There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Coping with melanoma

Any diagnosis of cancer is difficult to cope with, both practically and emotionally. Most melanomas in the UK are diagnosed when they are at a very early stage and the chance of cure is very high. Many people just have the melanoma removed and need no further treatment. But it can still be a very worrying time. At first, you are likely to feel very upset, frightened and confused. Or you may feel that things are out of your control.

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of cancer brings, you also have to work out how to manage practically. You may need time off work while you are treated. And there may be money worries. Who do you tell that you have cancer? And how do you find the words? There may be children to consider.

The coping with cancer section contains lots of information you may find helpful. There are sections on your feelings, talking to people about melanoma, helping yourself, getting outside help, sex and sexuality, and financial matters.

 

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Coping with your diagnosis

It can be very difficult coping with a diagnosis of cancer, both practically and emotionally. Most melanomas in the UK are diagnosed when they are at a very early stage and the chance of cure is very high. Many people just have the melanoma removed and need no further treatment. But it can still be a very worrying time. At first, you are likely to feel very upset, frightened and confused. Or you may feel that things are out of your control.

It is very important to get the right information about your type of melanoma and how it is best treated. People who are well informed about their illness and treatment are more able to make decisions and cope with what happens.

 

How melanoma can affect you physically

Melanoma and its treatment may cause physical changes in your body. Many people may just have a small scar where the melanoma was removed and it may not affect you very much. But some people may have a skin graft or a scar on a very visible part of the body. These changes can be very difficult to cope with and may affect the way you feel about yourself. Such body changes can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends. You can find out where to get support in our section on coping with cancer.

If you are having a sexual relationship, one or all of these changes may affect your sex life. There is information about how cancer can affect your sex life in the coping with cancer section.

If you have treatment such as biological therapies or chemotherapy for advanced melanoma you may feel very tired and lethargic a lot of the time. There is information about fatigue and cancer and treating cancer fatigue in the section on coping physically with cancer.

 

Coping practically with melanoma

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of melanoma brings, you may also have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. You may need information about financial support, such as benefits, sick pay and grants. Who do you tell that you have cancer? And how do you find the words? You may also have children to think about. There is information on this website about talking to people about your cancer and how and what to tell children.

Just try to remember that you do not have to sort everything out at once. It may take some time to deal with each issue. Do ask for help if you need it though. It is likely that your doctor or specialist nurse will know who you can contact to get some help. They can put you in touch with people specially trained in supporting those with cancer. These people are there to help and want you to feel that you have support. So use them if you feel you need to.

You may need to have access to support staff, such as a physiotherapist or social worker. Social workers can help you with information about your entitlement to sick pay and benefits. If you live alone, a social worker may be able to help by organising convalescence when you first come out of hospital.

 

More information on coping with melanoma

The coping with cancer section has lots of helpful information. There are sections about

If you would like more detailed information about coping with melanoma, contact one of the organisations on our melanoma organisations list. They will be happy to help. They often have free factsheets and booklets they can send to you. They may also be able to put you in touch with a support group. There is also a melanoma reading list.

You can also contact our cancer information nurses and they will be happy to help.

You can also find details of counselling organisations, that can tell you more about counselling and help you find sources of emotional support in your area.

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Updated: 23 January 2014