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Melanoma and Support

No matter what challenge you are facing in your life, the support of the people in your life often provides strength and encouragement that can help you get through and push past your challenge. Melanoma treatment is no exception, and creating a positive support network around you can make a big difference. Some people find that the support of friends and family is all they need. Other people try support groups made up of other people who are also facing the same challenge. Don’t discount the value that these kinds of support networks can bring. In fact, one study showed that women who participated in support groups for breast cancer lived twice as long as those who did not.1

Effect of Support on Melanoma

Building a good support network around you to help your fight can be a very valuable in beating melanoma. There are many different forms that support comes in, whether it is friends and family that encourage you, or groups of people facing the same challenge as you. Here are some of the ways you can build support for yourself:

Read more details about Support.

Research Evidence on Support

One study found that women who had breast cancer who took part in a support group doubled their survival time vs. those who did not(2). In addition, in that same study, all of the long term survivors belonged to at least one support group. This strongly suggests that the mental and emotional benefits that people can get through the support of others can have a profound effect on their ability to fight cancer.

Support Structures

Friend and Family –

Your friends and family can become an enormously powerful and helpful support for you. But in order to make the as helpful as possible, you need to tell them what you need from them. And you need to set up your “ground rules” for being helpful. The fact is, they want to help you, but they don’t really know how – they need your help with this and will appreciate it when you tell them what you want and need.

Here are some examples of ground rules you could set up and communicate to them:

  • "Don’t act like I’m always sick. I am living this every day and I don’t want to sit there and talk about how I’m feeling with everyone. Tell me about what you’re up to. Tell me about the funny things going on in your life. I don’t mind telling you how I’m feeling, but I don’t want it to be the focus of our conversation.”
  • “Don’t tell me you’re worried about me. Because if I think you’re worried about me, then I start to worry about me to, and that’s not a good part of my healing process. Tell me that you know how strong I am, and all of the good care I’m getting, and you know I can beat it.”
  • "Don’t every refer to it as “your melanoma” – this is NOT my melanoma. I didn’t invite this melanoma into my body, it is not welcome here, and it is not mine at all. If you want to talk about it, you can call it “the melanoma” or just “melanoma.”
  • “Don’t capitalize “melanoma” with a capital “M.” This melanoma doesn’t deserve the same respect that other things that get capitalized receive”
  • “Don’t tell me I look bad. The fact is that for someone like me who is going through this, I look pretty darn good!”
  • “Remind me that I can and will beat this thing. With everything I’m going through all day and night, sometimes its hard to remind myself of that. And knowing and hearing that you believe in me makes a huge difference here.”
  • “Let me know how important I am to you, and all of the things you love about me. That makes me feel good and valuable in the world”

Support groups -

Some people find support groups to be very helpful to them in coping with the challenge of fighting melanoma.

Beyond the studies, however, the bottom line is that sometimes its hard for other people who have never faced this kind of challenge, to understand what you are going through. So some people find it comforting to connect with others who are facing the same challenge and can relate. Be careful though, to surround yourself with positive fighters, not people who are facing melanoma and have succumbed to the victim mentality.

Support groups tend to be organized by the doctors or hospitals for melanoma treatment. Ask your doctor if they are aware of any support groups in your area. If they are not, then check online or try contacting other doctors or hospitals in your area who are treating melanoma. If you can not find a local support group in your area, try contacting the American Cancer Society and try searching for “melanoma support group” on the web – with a little digging you are sure to find a group that you can join.

Be with people –

It may be the case that this challenge with melanoma has made you feel like you’re all alone, and that you’re different than the person you were before. But for the most part, that’s not true. You’re still the same person and your friends and family still love being with you just as much. So make sure to spend as much time with them as you want.

Don’t give up intimacy -

If you are married or have a significant other, remember, you don’t have to give up intimacy while your fighting this challenge. Hugging, kissing, caressing are all great ways to express intimacy while you’re fighting. And remember, that intimacy can return even stronger than it was before the challenge, once you have beaten melanoma.


(1) Everyone'S Guide To Cancer Therapy, 4th Edition, Margaret Tempero (Editor), Sean Mulvihill (Editor). Reference to study done by Dr. David Spiegle of Stanford University


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