Learning you have advanced cancer can turn your world upside down. Suddenly, your day-to-day life is overrun with medical appointments and new treatment regimens. The uncertainty of the future can cause anxiety and worry.
Know that your treatment team has your back. They’re a good resource to turn to when you feel overwhelmed. Here are a few other things you can do to live better with advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC).
Treating advanced CSCC often begins with surgery. Your doctor might add radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of other treatments depending on the location and extent of your cancer.
Removing your cancer — or as much of it as possible — could help improve your outlook. It can come as a big relief to know that you have more time to look forward to with your family. Treating your cancer will also help you feel better overall.
Advanced CSCC can be a challenging cancer to treat. Understanding all you can about your cancer and its treatments, and knowing what to expect, will help you feel more in control.
Be an active part of your treatment team. Ask questions when you don’t understand what your doctor has recommended. Let your medical team know if you have any side effects or other problems with your treatment.
Be as open and honest as you can about how you’re feeling and what you need. If you don’t feel like your doctor or other members of your team are taking you seriously or following your wishes, seek another opinion.
If your doctor needs to remove a large area of skin, especially somewhere visible like your face, it can leave a noticeable scar. That can have a big effect on your self-image.
There are ways to minimize the appearance of the surgery. For one thing, your doctor can use a graft of skin from another part of your body to cover the area.
Your doctor can also help minimize the appearance of your scars. Taping the incision while it heals is one option. If you already have a scar, steroid injections can help flatten it, and lasers can even out the color.
Living with cancer can be very stressful. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help restore a sense of calm and balance to your life. Practice a few different techniques until you find the ones that suit you best.
You can also find relaxation in simple, everyday activities. Listen to music, read a book you love, or watch a funny movie with friends to help yourself unwind.
Following good lifestyle habits is always important to maintain your health. Caring for yourself is even more crucial when you have cancer.
Eat a well-balanced diet, try to exercise every day, and sleep at least 7 to 9 hours each night. If you fall behind in any of these areas, ask your doctor for advice.
Treatments aren’t just aimed at slowing your cancer. Some also relieve your symptoms and help you feel better.
Palliative care is medical care for your symptoms. It’s not the same as hospice, which is end-of-life care after treatment ends. You can get palliative care along with your CSCC treatment.
You’ll get palliative care at a hospital, outpatient clinic, or at home. Palliative treatments for CSCC may include radiation therapy to treat pain, bleeding, and open wounds on your skin.
Life can feel pretty difficult to manage when you have cancer. Take back control where you can.
Educate yourself about your cancer. Take an active role in decisions about your own care. And carve out time each day to do the things you enjoy.
It’s not unusual to feel anxious, scared, or even depressed when you’re diagnosed with an advanced-stage cancer. You may worry about the future.
You don’t have to go through this process alone. Lean on the people closest to you, like your family, partner, kids, co-workers, and friends.
You can also ask your doctor to recommend a counselor with experience working with people who have cancer. It can feel good to unburden your worries to someone else.
Also, look into support groups for CSCC. Your cancer hospital might offer support groups, or you can find one through an organization like the American Cancer Society. It can be comforting to talk to people who understand exactly what you’re going through.
Having an advanced cancer can make your life feel out of control. Taking an active part in your treatment can help you regain some of that control and feel better about your situation.
While doing everything you can to treat your cancer, remember to also take care of yourself. Take time to rest, eat well, and do the things you enjoy. It’s OK to seek out help whenever you feel overwhelmed.