This is the sixth part of our series about the condition based on our patient booklet “Fast Facts for Patients and their Supporters: Advanced Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma”. This article lists questions to ask your doctor and how you can help yourself as well as deal with your feelings.
Everyone deals with cancer differently. You may want to collect detailed information and research your cancer, or you may prefer to trust your medical team to guide you. Being informed will help you have better conversations and make decisions about your treatment and care.
Some conversations with your doctor may involve a lot of new information and questions. Bringing a family member or friend and taking notes can help you to take in this information and make decisions.
Ask the questions that are bothering you, and if you are not sure about any aspect of your treatment, ask again. Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion – it’s absolutely acceptable. Make a note of the health professionals in your medical team.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Your Treatment
If you’re having surgery:
- What are the risks of this procedure?
- Should I stop any of my medications before surgery?
- What can I expect after my surgery?
- Will I need help at home during my recovery?
If you’re having radiation therapy:
- What are the risks of radiation?
- How many treatments will I have?
- What can I expect during my radiation therapy?
- Will I need help at home?
If you’re having systemic treatment:
- Which treatment is right for me?
- Will I have to come to the hospital for intravenous treatment? How often?
- How will we know if the treatment is working?
- How will I feel during treatment?
- Will I need help at home?
What Can You Do to Help Yourself?
Previously we have looked at what cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is, the symptoms, how to diagnose it and how to treat it. But you need to take care of both your body and mind during your cancer treatment and recovery.
So what can you do? Here are some helpful examples below. Whatever you do, especially physically, do it in moderation. Always ask your doctor if you are concerned.
- Eat a balanced and varied diet of healthy vegetables, fruits, chicken and fish – cut down on fats, carbs and sweets.
- Try to exercise regularly – even a daily walk will help your physical strength (if you have challenges with walking and balance, discuss this with your doctor).
- Continue to check your skin for new lesions, and protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, hats and clothing.
- Get outdoors – fresh air and sunlight (with sunscreen, of course!) will have a positive effect on your mood.
- If you smoke, try to cut down or stop.
- If your doctor says that it’s ok to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Consider meditation, yoga or relaxation techniques to calm the mind if you are feeling stressed.
- Find small things to be appreciative of every day.
- If you are religious, your community can help support you.
- Think about joining a support group – it’s helpful to talk to other people going through the same thing; find details on the internet or ask your cancer center.
There is no right or wrong way to feel about your illness and the future, but it may help to:
- Focus on what is important to you.
- Spend time with your loved ones.
- Make plans ahead of time for you and your family.
- Keep to your usual routines to maintain a sense of normality.
- Accept that there will be good days and bad days.
- Ask your medical team about options for social and emotional support as well as physical support.
Please check out the other posts of our series here:
- What Is (Advanced) Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
- How Can Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma Be Diagnosed?
- Staging of Metastatic Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Types of Metastatic Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma: How Is It Treated?
Information based on Fast Facts for Patients and their Supporters: Advanced Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma (Karger, 2020).