When you have cancer, you have plenty of things to worry about. But one New York doctor says you shouldn't have to worry about how you look.
Eva McDonald of Manhattan was diagnosed with head and neck cancer six years ago.
"I lost my hair on a different regimen," McDonald said. "It was upsetting but I could just throw on a wig and I wouldn't look any different."
The cancer has spread. She is on a new chemotherapy that has some new side effects.
"I got this acne-like rash on my face, really dry skin all over the rest of my body, some cracks on my fingertips and my feet," she said.
Her friends and family said they could barely notice it.
"But then I would go pick up my son from school and all the little kids would say 'Johnny's mommy, what happened to your face?'" she said. "Kids don't know how to lie."
At 33, Tom Allen Ryan got a diagnosis of colon cancer. He went through surgery and several rounds of chemo. But one of the chemo cocktails made his face break out.
"I didn't want to go outside. I became very withdrawn," he said. "I almost wanted to stop treatment that was how bad it got for me."
Both Eva and Tom went to see Dr. Mario Lacouture of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The dermatologist specializes in treating cancer patients.
"We use a variety of topical medications and creams or small surgical procedures to minimize rashes, skin growths of painful skin conditions in the nails that may result from chemotherapy," said Dr. Lacouture, who wrote a skin care guide for people living with cancer.
He said that many cancer patients suffer in silence.
"Many side effects they don't want to report to their oncologists, because they are afraid for their medicine to be decreased or to be interrupted," he said.
The doctor said that with some treatment, patients can improve their quality of life.
"Cancer takes enough from you, it doesn't need to take that away from you, too," McDonald said.
"I could have stay just sat at home and done nothing and hoped that it went away. But then that takes away from your life, from your family and that's what's it's all about," Dr. Lacouture said.
With more than 12 million cancer survivors in the United States, Dr. Lacouture said that a lot more people will experience side effects from cancer treatments.
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