Welcome to the health section of iFace. Here you can find out how other young people deal with health issues linked to their disfigurement. If you have a story that you'd like to tell, or if you'd like add a new FAQ or issue to the forum, click on the 'add your story' button at the bottom of the green box on the right and send us an email.
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It is understandable that you feel anxious about going to see your friend if her appearance has changed. Try to remember that your friend is proably going to be anxious about seeing people too but at the same time she could probably really do with seeing her friends. Talk with her mum to ask what changes there have been. She may have drips or bandages or look swollen, and her mum will be able to tell you this information so you feel a little more prepared.
Try to focus on the fact she is still going to be the same person, even if she does look a little different, so try not to treat her any differently to how you did before. Once you start talking to her you will soon begin to forget about any change in her appearance.
It would be worth checking that she wants to have visitors, you can check this by asking her mum. If she isnt quite ready yet you could send her a card telling her you are thinking aboout her and really hope to see her soon as you are missing her; this will remind her of all the great friends she has waiting to help her get better.
The word cancer and the treatments that go with it can seem very scary, but try to remember that there are many, many people of all ages who have been through this illness and are leading full and long lives.
If it is the word cancer and hospital appointments that are causing you to be scared try to get as much information as you can you can make a list of the questions you want to ask when you go to the hospital, and always take someone with you that you feel can help you ask the questions you want.
Some of the support groups and charites you may want to contact to find out more information and get support are www.macmillan.org.uk or www.click4tic.org.uk These are just a couple of the many ways you can get support.
It is always a good idea to take some time out and think about something different. Go and see a friend or do something that makes you feel happy to try and focus your mind and thoughts on something positive. Thinking positive is good all round and can make you feel better physically and mentally. It can be very exausting and frightening thinking and imagining the worst so really try and take the time to do something nice for yourself.
Initally your focus may be on getting well and having treatment. It may not be till a bit later that you become worried about how cancer may change your appearance. Find someone that you can talk to about your concerns if you feel it is not something that you can talk to your friends about you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org to chat about your worries about changing appearance.
Why not talk to them and let them know how much you appreciate their concern. Say that you would definitely like to see them when you come home but you would prefer it if they didn't come to the hospital.
If they want to let you know how much they are thinking of you, ask them to send you cards, letters, emails and texts or call you in hospital when you are feeling ready to talk.
Sometimes it can help to know a bit more about the operation so you feel more prepared. Why not take a list of questions along next time you see your surgeon or next specialist and go through together so that you are clear about what will happen? E.g.
- Will you have any dressings, drips or drains attached?
- Will there be any swelling and if so when will it go down?
- Will you have any stitches?
- How soon after the op will you be able to see your new appearance.
If you're worried about seeing your new appearance in the mirror for the first time, decide beforehand who you want with you for support. Don't feel pressured into looking before you feel ready. You can choose when to look. Just let the nurses and your surgeon know when the time is right for you.
At first you might feel surprised or shocked - either because your appearance doesn't look so different or you find it difficult to recognise yourself. Remember it will take a while for the swelling to go down and the stitches to come out.
Adjusting to a new appearance doesn't happen overnight so just take things one day at a time. If you're finding it hard and you're not sure how to talk to the people closest to you, you can always contact Changing Faces on 0845 4500 275 or email email@example.com.
If you are unsure about having another operation, ask your surgeon or your parents why they are suggesting you have more surgery. Try to find out what the benefits are e.g. perhaps you will be able to eat, breathe, hold things or swallow more easily. Ask how long you will need off school, college, or work and whether this surgery can wait or whether it need to be done by a certain age.
Once you feel you have answers to all your questions and enough information then weigh up the pros and cons. You may want to do this with someone else you trust who will simply listen and not try to make up your mind in a particular direction.
If you have made up your mind that you definitely don't want any more surgery at the moment then try to explain your decision simply and clearly next time you see your surgeon.
Start by writing down or thinking about what you already know about your medical condition. Then start thinking about what else you would like to know and write your thoughts down as questions, e.g.
- Is there a name for my condition?
- How many other people have my condition?
- Will my appearance change as I get older?
- If it is going to change how will it change?
- What treatment have I had so far?
- What else could I have?
- What difference will it make?
Your parents may already know some of the answers to these questions so you could ask them first or wait and ask your GP (local doctor), specialist doctor or nurse at hospital.
It's useful to ask someone else to come along to your appointment with you, particularly if you want to ask lots of questions so that you can both remember the answers. You can also take a pen and paper in with you to write the answers down or ask someone else to do this so you can concentrate on what your doctor is saying.
If you are worried you will not have enough time to ask your questions, you can ask for a longer appointment (or ask your parents to call and ask for this).
If we are not feeling good about ourselves we can sometimes focus on parts of appearance that we wish we could change. This need to look 'perfect' increases when you read magazines and compare yourself to the models and images you see. This can make you feel low and less confident and before you know it you are automatically thinking negative thoughts about yourself when something doesn't seem to go right. You need to look at yourself as a whole package; the acne is just one small part of all the other things that make up who you are. Remember the things that you are good at, and the nice things that people say about you.
When you are being particularly hard on yourself try and think of somewhere you've been where you felt relaxed and happy, like a special holiday place, a concert seeing your favorite band live or a walk near your home. How did that place make you feel? Relaxed? Full of energy? Happy? Without a care in the world? Hang on to that image in your head to stop those negative thoughts.
For more ideas about increasing your confidence you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are finding things a struggle when you get back to school, try and talk to your Mum or Dad or a teacher you like about it. If you're having a problem with science for example, don't think that you have to talk to your science teacher. You might find your form teacher, head of year, or art teacher easier to talk to and this is fine.