Medically Reviewed by Dr. K. Updated as of June 3, 2021.
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How To Care For Yourself With Metastatic Melanoma
There are things you can do every day to pamper yourself while undergoing treatment for metastatic melanoma, a kind of skin cancer that has spread to other regions of your body.
Use these 9 suggestions to help you cope with the side effects, increase your energy, and feel better.
1. Support Circle
While you’re undergoing treatment, you’ll need somebody to lean on for support and comfort. During difficult times, it’s natural to feel sad, angry, anxious, or other emotions.
Support may come in a variety of ways. You may talk to family, friends, or a therapist if you need help. You may seek guidance from individuals who are going through the same thing by joining an in-person or online support group.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
Getting the right nutrients may help your body fight cancer and boost your energy levels. Aim for a combination of the following:
- Protein: During treatment, you may need additional protein to help prevent muscle loss, fight infections, and recuperate. Beans, fish, lean meat, chicken, pork, and nuts are all good sources of lean protein.
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates provide energy. Fiber-rich foods, such whole grains, may also significantly minimize constipation, which is a common side effect of chemotherapy.
- Fruits and vegetables: Choose a variety of colours to acquire a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can all help to enhance your immune system.
- Healthy fats: Unsaturated fats, such as those found in vegetable oils, avocados, and nuts, aid in the absorption of certain nutrients.
- Water: You should drink at least eight 8 large glasses of fluids each day, but more if you’re vomiting or experiencing diarrhoea.
If you want further advice, ask your doctor to refer you to a dietician who has worked with cancer patients.
3. Stay Active
Although a workout may be the last thing on your mind, it is important to keep fit. It may also help you feel more energised, reducing the fatigue caused by the disease. Being physically active may also help you cope with stress and anxiety.
Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise programme to determine how much and what sort of activity is best for you. You may change your routine depending on how you feel each day. But, whenever possible, aim to do something.
4. Conserve Your Energy
Even if you had a good night’s sleep, you’re tired. Does this ring a bell? You might be suffering from cancer-related tiredness, which is characterised by a loss of energy caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Chemotherapy: Some people claim they feel tired for a few days after starting treatment, while others claim it lasts the whole time.
- Radiation therapy: The sense of being wiped out lasts for 3 to 4 weeks following treatment, although this may last up to 3 months.
Because you only have so much energy, you’ll need to plan ahead. Make a list of what’s most essential and ask for assistance or say no to the rest. When you need to relax, do so.
5. Rest Well
Many cancer patients wake up tossing and turning throughout the night. If this describes you, consider the following suggestions to get a better night’s sleep:
- Every day, go to bed and wake up at the same time.
- Your bedroom should only be used for sleeping.
- Keep a diary next to your bed to write down any wandering thoughts or worries.
- If you don’t fall asleep in 15 minutes, get up and do something calming, such as listening to music.
- Keep your bedroom cool if you experience cancer-related nighttime sweats.
6. Prepare for Hair Loss
You won’t shed those strands immediately if you require treatment. Your hair will start to fall out slowly or in clumps after a few sessions.
You may slow down the process by washing your hair with a milder shampoo, avoiding perms or hair dyes, and brushing it with a soft-bristled brush. Alternatively, you may shave your head or cut your hair short.
Treatment with scalp hypothermia (cold caps) during chemotherapy or radiation may help to prevent hair loss.
Protect your scalp from the sun if you’ve lost your hair by wearing sunscreen, a hat, scarf, or wig.
7. Manage Your Pain
You can seek relief for your pains, whether they’re caused by cancer or chemotherapy.
Inquire with your doctor about painkillers, both over-the-counter and prescription. If the pain does not improve or worsens, or if the medicine does not work as well or as long as it used to, you should speak up.
8. Consider Compression Garments
You may have swelling after surgery to remove your lymph nodes. This is known as lymphedema, and it occurs when lymph fluid builds up in the body.
Swelling may be reduced by wearing compression garments. Tight sleeves or stockings that fit over your arms and legs aid in the flow of fluid to your body. These things must fit properly. Consult your doctor to see if they can assist you.
9. Consider Acupuncture
A skilled practitioner uses very thin needles to promote the flow of energy in this form of traditional Chinese medicine.
It has been shown in studies to help with cancer-related symptoms. For example, according to a Harvard analysis of data, acupuncture may help with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It may also help with the disease’s pain and fatigue.
Referenced on 17/4/2021
- Dominic Ricci, MD, dermatologist, Scott & White Healthcare, Round Rock, Texas.
- Bhatia, S. Oncology, May 2009.
- Melanoma Research Foundation: “Metastatic Melanoma.”
- American Cancer Society: “Treatment of Melanoma Skin Cancer by Stage.”
- Bird, J. Journal of Clinical Nursing, February 2015.
- American Cancer Society: “Nutrition for the Person with Cancer During Treatment.”
- Cromwell, K. European Journal of Cancer Care, March 2015.
- Cleveland Clinic: “Cancer-Related Fatigue.”
- University of Iowa Hospital & Clinics: “Tips for Better Sleep for Cancer Patients.”
- Thoebald, D. Clinical Cornerstone, Supplemental Issue, 2004.
- American Cancer Society: “Hair Loss From Chemo.”
- National Cancer Institute: “Pain.”
- National Cancer Institute: “Lymphedema – For Health Professionals.”
- American Cancer Society: “Understanding Lymphedema — For Cancers Other than Breast Cancer.”
- Lu, W. Hematology Oncology Clinics of North America, August 2008.
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Acupuncture.”