Melanoma Survivorship

SUR·VI·VOR·SHIP

Noun

The state or condition of being a survivor, survival.

The number of Americans with a history of cancer has gone up greatly over the last 45 years, according to the National Cancer Institute. There are now more than 15 million Americans living with a history of cancer and nearly 1 million living with melanoma. Survivorship may have a few different meanings, but to most, it means living with, through and beyond a cancer diagnosis.

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) patient information site, three phases of survivorship should be recognized:

  • Acute survivorship focuses on cancer treatment. It begins at the diagnosis and goes through the end of treatment.
  • Extended survivorship focuses on the effects of cancer and cancer treatment. This phase begins at the end of treatment and goes through the months after.
  • Permanent survivorship focuses on long-term effects of cancer and cancer treatment. This phase is the period of time when years have passed since cancer treatment ended and the risk of recurrence seems less likely.

Surviving Melanoma & Life After Cancer

Survivors of melanoma may experience any range of emotions, fears or struggles. It’s important to know that there is no right or wrong way to be a survivor. Survivors may experience:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Loss of support or a social network that feels inadequate
  • Fear of recurrence
  • Guilt about surviving
  • Relationship struggles, including physical, sexual or fertility problems

Your life after a melanoma diagnosis may be different than before. You may be worried about fertility and having a baby, have increased anxiety, or even experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Legal Protections Against Discrimination

Discrimination in the work place is not your fault. In the United States, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) and many regulations are in place that protect your right to work and be treated fairly at work. To have these legal protections, you must tell your employer about your melanoma diagnosis.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Federal law that entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons with the continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) Federal law that protects Americans from discrimination from health insurers and employers because of differences in their DNA that may affect their health.

Additional Survivorship Resources

National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Survivorship

National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Survivorship Center

CancerCare Social Worker on Melanoma Survivorship

American Cancer Society – Life After Treatment

 

 

At the MRF, we believe that well-informed and well-supported patients live longer, better lives. We do our best to maintain all supportive services information, however, if you know of a melanoma organization or a support service focused on survivorship that may be helpful for others, please contact education@melanoma.org.