Life After Melanoma: Tips To Live Your Best Life

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 12 May 2022

Life After Melanoma

There is no question that receiving a melanoma diagnosis would alter the course of your life. Based on the severity of the illness, your life can be drastically changed or just slightly different. In any case, there are strategies for coping with these changes and even flourishing as you get on with your life.

Protect Your Skin

You're more likely to get another melanoma if you've already had one. However, you can protect your skin by following a few simple sun protection tips.

  • Spend as little time outdoors as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun and its penetrating ultraviolet (UV) rays are at their strongest. When your shadow is shorter than you are, you know the sun is too bright for comfort.
  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays if you go outside. It should have at least an SPF of 30. Whether you're swimming, sweating, or spending time around water or snow, reapply every 2 hours at the very least.
  • Wear long pants, long sleeves, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin.
  • Cover your eyes by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses outdoors. You could be at a higher risk for eye melanoma, so make an appointment with your eye doctor on a regular basis.
  • If you're taking “photosensitive" medications, which make you more sensitive to the sun, be extra cautious. Some chemotherapy drugs fall into this category.
  • At least once a month, examine any part of your skin for any new or changing markings. Often, make sure you see the doctor on a regular basis.

Keep Control of Conversations

Many people feel better after receiving a melanoma diagnosis if they share their concerns with others. However, this can also backfire. Uncomfortable questions or offensive remarks can be directed at you. To keep uncomfortable moments to a minimum — or at the very least, control your reaction to them — try these tips:

  • It's important to remember that it's usually not about you. People come to the table with their own worries and memories.
  • Consider who you'll say about your illness, as well as when and how much information you'll share.
  • If you're tired of discussing your condition over and over, point people to a website or ask a friend or family member to respond to questions.
  • Prepare answers or be prepared to change the topic if you receive unusual questions or comments.

Sex After Melanoma

Your sex life would probably not improve much if you discover and treat melanoma early on. However, if you need chemo or other treatments, you may need to make adjustments. Consider the following suggestions:

  • If one position is too uncomfortable for you, try another, such as lying on your sides with your partner.
  • Chemotherapy medications will remain in your sperm or vaginal fluids for up to three days after you've had treatment. At that time, use a condom (also for oral sex) to avoid passing the chemicals to your partner.
  • Some treatments can reduce your appetite for sex, prevent you from climaxing, or cause genital irritation. Consult the doctor or nurse for advice on how to deal with these issues.
  • If you don't have enough white blood cells in your body due to chemo, avoid vaginal or anal intercourse until your levels improve. You could contract an infection, and those cells would be needed to combat it.

Get Active

Exercise is one of the most beneficial things anyone can do for their health, including people with melanoma. Everything you have to do is follow a few simple rules:

Even if the cut appears to be minor, avoid doing any strenuous exercise (kickboxing, for example) right after surgery. If you overdo it, you risk tearing your stitches.

Bear in mind that your stamina may have been compromised by your melanoma treatment. Start slowly when returning to your workouts after treatment, even if you were very involved before the diagnosis.

If your medication leaves you exhausted, schedule your workouts for when you have the most energy during the day.

As long as you cover yourself from the heat, you should be fine doing your workout outside.

Often consult with your health-care team to determine the best forms of exercise for you during your recovery.

Celebrate Life

Cancer is a serious illness, but it doesn't have to consume every second of your life. Find ways to put your illness on the back burner and keep your schedule, family time, and activities as normal as possible.

Celebrate all of your victories, large and small, on your cancer journey. You should plan a special dinner once you finish chemo or a larger get-together when you've been cancer-free for a year.

It is possible to have cancer and maintain a healthy lifestyle. As a result, you might actually feel like you're growing.

Sources

Referenced on  30/4/2021

  1. American Cancer Society: “Can melanoma skin cancer be found early?" “What are the risk factors for melanoma skin cancer?" “What happens after treatment for melanoma skin cancer?" “Talking With Friends and Relatives About Your Cancer."
  2. American Society of Clinical Oncology: “Protecting Your Skin From the Sun," “Sharing Your Story," “Recognizing Milestones," “Post-Traumatic Growth and Cancer," “Melanoma: After Treatment," “Healthy Living After Cancer."
  3. University of Pennsylvania OncoLink: “Men's Guide to Sexuality During & After Cancer Treatment."
  4. University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: “Sexuality & Cancer."
  5. Dana Farber Cancer Institute: “Sexual intimacy during cancer treatment."
  6. Skin Cancer Foundation: “Melanoma – Treatments."
  7. Melanoma Research Foundation: “A diagnosis of melanoma affects everyone differently."
  8. https://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/melanoma-best-self

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