Home Forums Melanoma Diagnosis: Stages I &II Psychological consequences of melanoma

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  • #21530
    questions
    Participant

    What are the psychological consequences of melanoma?

    Someone related to me was diagnosed with melanoma

    Stage 1A two years ago. Even though the doctors assured him

    that he would be fine, he is still very scared of dying of melanoma. Is this

    Common among people who have been diagnosed with melanoma? I would appreciate your opinions. Thanks

    #62222
    Rojam
    Participant

    hi,

    not sure if it will help but ill give you an insight into how i felt with my diagonisis.

    i was diagonised as originally 1b then changed a year later to 1a nearly three years ago.

    not a day goes by when i dont think about it. in the early days it was 24 hours per day now its just fleeting thoughts.

    for me i struggled with 1) will the original melanoma return suddenly in my organs. 2) are any of my hundreds of other moles also melanoma.

    my love in life apart from my husband and three kids is my horse totti. therefore i spend a lot of time outside and always feel like i am sun dodging and consistently reminded of my melanoma. i felt theres no escape from thinking about it.

    i really struggled with not being comfortable in the sun anymore. i stupidly used to love the sun but just didnt give it the respect it deserves.

    i found it hard that in the uk most people see melanoma as just a minor problem that you cut off and then youre cured. i didnt feel think anyone understood me. thankfully i then found this site, catherine and all the great people on here giving me great support and comfort.

    I felt my sense of humour had been wiped from me and my whole identity had changed. I’m not the carefree person I was but I am now happy with the new me.

    Someone on here once said its a diagnosis not a life sentence and that really stuck and helped me focus on moving on.

    looking back though i still wished id asked for counselling after my diagnosis and maybe told my gp how i was feeling with the view of going on short term anti anxiety meds.

    at the beginning i found it mental torture, like white noise. i was panicking about my kids, id wake feeling my lymph nodes in the middle of the night. id go into the changing rooms in shops to try clothes on and stay in there distracted by checking my moles in the mirrors (under different lights) for ages etc etc etc. but time is the biggest healer and it really does get better with time. i still have wobbles but i now only allow myself so much time thinking about it and then make myself move on. I am now in control of myself and never scan the Internet for information. I only use this site.

    i also now realise that although i was unlucky getting melanoma i was very lucky i caught it myself on the base of the back of my neck so early. i now believe the statistics that i am very unlikely to have to deal with my 1a ever again.

    i also feel if i can catch it there, then i can catch it anywhere and am confident i will spot anything that changes with the help of my photos i have had done.

    i am at last comfortable in my own moley skin again now, ive adjusted my life to fit the sun and will not let myself be consumed with what ifs. lifes to precious to miss out on

    your relative is lucky to have you.

    warm wishes

    jane

    #62223
    cohanja
    Participant

    1A 2 years ago, and I struggle with all of these very same things; I don’t know if that makes it “common” but at least it is something others experience too

    #62224
    cohanja
    Participant

    I think for me the scariest/hardest part has always been seeing the cases that started out like me that eventually went on to advanced stages. That tells me it’s possible and does sometimes happen, and they just dont’ know/can’t predict who that will be. And so without any adjuvant therapy, I feel like I’m rolling the dice and just hoping, but without acting or doing anything . . I feel like it’s just all left up to chance, and that is hard mentally

    #62225
    Catherine Poole
    Keymaster

    Time heals hopefully for you as it did for me. Soon after my diagnosis I was researching melanoma, writing a book on it and I would come across someone low risk as I (.76 vertical growth phase, mitotic 1, regression present) who progressed and it would freak me out. Even getting my mammogram freaked me out. But I’ve come to live in the moment which I preach far too often. But think about it: what can you control?? The past? No! The future? No! This moment, Yes!~ You can make this moment relaxing and pleasant. There isn’t any magic bullet that prevents a recurrence for any cancer. You can only try to live a healthy life, keep your immune system strong, and your mind and body in balance. This is the basis of mindful meditation.

    #62226
    cohanja
    Participant

    Maybe I read too much into the “keep your immune system strong” that everyone always says. To me, that implies the cancer is still there, lurking somewhere, and it’s up to the immune system to keep it from causing a problem. To me, that’s the hard part psychologically, I feel if there is cancer still there somewhere, I want it out. I was under the impression that in most cases the surgery has eliminated all of the cancer as far as we know.

    #62227
    Catherine Poole
    Keymaster

    Your good health and immune system keeps all the bad stuff away, including cancer. Cancer isn’t our only worry, heart disease kills far more people. So eating healthy, exercising regularly, and not obsessing about dying will keep your immune system tip top. Don’t forget your mind and body work together.

    #62228
    HoolieB
    Participant

    I’m just two years into my story and I’m getting a bit less obsessed…finally! With the grudging support of my husband, I chose to take the summer off from derm appointments. It’s been heavenly! No biopsies, no WLEs, no restrictions on activity for three glorious months now. My outlook has really improved as a result of my vacation from worrying. My fear of the sun is still pretty strong but I plan my activities around the UV index and make sure I’m covered up with SPF garments.

    And not to be fatalistic or morbid, if a three+ month break from seeing my derm results in a melanoma that is diagnosed later than sooner, so be it. I want to live whatever life I have ahead of me, not just merely exist.

    #62229
    wpatterson4
    Participant

    Quote:

    It’s been heavenly! No biopsies, no WLEs, no restrictions on activity for three glorious months now.

    Are my moles more benign looking, or do most of you have trigger-happy physicians? Immediately after my diagnosis, my dermatologist removed three moles of his choosing, all of which turned out to be congenital compound nevi. All of the moles I’ve had taken off since then (by both of my doctors) were removed because I wanted them removed.

    I don’t think any of them were deemed severely atypical, although at least two of them had regressed.

    #62230
    wpatterson4
    Participant

    questions wrote:

    Even though the doctors assured him

    that he would be fine, he is still very scared of dying of melanoma. Is this

    Common among people who have been diagnosed with melanoma? I would appreciate your opinions. Thanks

    Yes, it is. It’s been almost three years since I was diagnosed. I’ve calmed down tremendously, but I still experience mortal fear on a daily basis. Every now and then, it hits you like a baseball bat. But, as I said, the level of general anxiety does subside over time. Also, he’ll learn to deal with the fear he experiences. Both of those things take time. The fear, of course, might never go away completely.

    Please try to be patient and understanding.

    #62231
    HoolieB
    Participant

    wpatterson4 wrote:


    Are my moles more benign looking, or do most of you have trigger-happy physicians? Immediately after my diagnosis, my dermatologist removed three moles of his choosing, all of which turned out to be congenital compound nevi. All of the moles I’ve had taken off since then (by both of my doctors) were removed because I wanted them removed.

    I don’t think any of them were deemed severely atypical, although at least two of them had regressed.

    It’s a bit bit unnerving that I can see many of my moles are changing, and the ones that seem most “active” do come back from pathology as moderately to severely atypical. Not a single biopsy since my 9/2011 melanoma has come back as simply benign, but those with mild atypia we’ve agreed to watch and not further excise. If I allow myself to dwell on that, it does freak me out.

    #62232
    wpatterson4
    Participant

    Hoolie, how do the moles change? Are they growing in diameter or changing color? Do you measure them over time or is it really obvious?

    #62233
    Worrywart
    Participant

    cohanja wrote:

    Maybe I read too much into the “keep your immune system strong” that everyone always says. To me, that implies the cancer is still there, lurking somewhere, and it’s up to the immune system to keep it from causing a problem. To me, that’s the hard part psychologically, I feel if there is cancer still there somewhere, I want it out. I was under the impression that in most cases the surgery has eliminated all of the cancer as far as we know.

    We all have cancer cells in our body, but our body kills them before they can do anything – at least that is what I read in ‘Anti-Cancer’

    #62234
    Rojam
    Participant

    hi,

    just to add to the mix that i had six more moles removed in the year following diagnosis.

    the five i picked were all mildly dysplastic the one the derm choose was a completely normal benign mole!

    i also presented to my gp in the first instance with my melanoma and caught it at 0.25 mm.

    i found the constant derm appointments, mole removal, healing time and waiting for results really stressful and although i felt a bit like i was all alone, it was also a relief to be discharged from checkups.

    myself and my derm said the important thing with all my funny moles was to watch for change. i couldnt possibly have them all cut off.

    my biggest stress is that my main mole concentration and melanoma is on my back. just where i cant check them properly myself.

    now every three months or before if i wobble i get my husband to take a photo of them and i check them against my derm photos.

    its the system that works for me. its the system that stopped my mental angst. it stopped me from going from round and round on the what if roundbout and allowed me to step off it, say enoughs enough, keep vigilant but learn to enjoy life again.

    it does affect everyone differently and i guess everyones system will be different. its working out what best for you whilst staying safe.

    jane

    x

    #62235
    HoolieB
    Participant

    wpatterson4 wrote:

    Hoolie, how do the moles change? Are they growing in diameter or changing color? Do you measure them over time or is it really obvious?

    What is kind of scary is that the changes are noticeable, even without consulting the photos. The moles get larger and the pigment is changing. Right now I have one that has grown in size and is losing pigment in the center while the margins are more scalloped and darker. I do know I should probably have that one checked sooner than later but I just can’t bring myself to do so during this summer of freedom.

    Bringing this back to the OP’s post, my decision to do nothing right now is definitely a psychological issue. Or to quote my husband, “You’re not right in the head.” :)

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