How Learning About Your Diagnosis Can Help You

May 27, 2015
white woman in black sweater smiling outside a building

With the month of May coming to an end, it means for many of us a lot more outdoor time in the months ahead, and doing what we can to stay healthy and safe. And for good reason, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancer affects many Americans. In 2014, there were more than 76,000 new melanoma diagnoses in the U.S. alone, and melanoma accounts for less than 2% of new skin cancer diagnoses each year.

The Cancer Support Community (CSC) provides a number of resources and support services for those affected by skin cancer. One of these resources is our Frankly Speaking About Cancer workshops, which are offered through CSC’s Affiliate Network. Over the past several years, hundreds of people affected by skin cancer, most living with a metastatic melanoma, have connected with each other while learning about social and emotional issues commonly faced by those with cancer, current and emerging treatments and ways to improve communication with one’s health care team. Peoples’ response to the workshops has been overwhelmingly encouraging; nearly all (96.3%) would recommend attending a workshop to others affected by skin cancer.

We also hear how the workshops are providing much-needed information. Many people participating in a workshop have reported significant gains in knowledge. Most (83.8%) indicated they knew more about the topics addressed after attending a workshop, compared to 26.9% who reported a high level of knowledge before attending (a gain of 56.9 percentage points). Another big benefit of participating in a workshop is that the majority of people indicate feeling more confident in talking with their health care team about their treatment preferences. This is particularly striking given that the majority (71.7%) of attendees were not newly diagnosed, which speaks to the fact that regardless of where people are in their experience, information and support can be helpful.

In addition to workshops, CSC offers a number of ways for you to learn more about melanoma, emerging treatment options for metastatic melanoma, tools to help cope with a melanoma diagnosis and ways to connect with others.

Learn more about melanoma and other types of cancers on our website.

Do you have tips or resources you would recommend to others impacted by a skin cancer diagnosis? Share with us in the comments below, or weigh in on Facebook and Twitter.