Focusing on the Positive Amid Cancer
- “Lord of the Dance” star Michael Flatly, 65, is battling an undisclosed cancer diagnosis that’s taking a toll on him. This is his second cancer fight, with his first being a melanoma diagnosis in the early 2000s.
- Psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik says people coping with a diagnosis like cancer will experience fluid emotions. Giving yourself grace is important as you cope with your emotions, ranging from sadness to fear, anger, and more.
- While coping with a diagnosis, it’s important to lean on your support group or seek a mental health professional when your emotions become too heavy to handle on your own.
- In melanoma skin cancer cases, it is more likely to impact nearby tissue and spread or metastasize to other parts of the body. Since it can spread, it’s considered the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It starts in the same cells that give your skin, hair, and eyes their color.
“Lord of the Dance” creator Michael Flatly, 65, knows he has a tough fight ahead of him while faced with cancer for the second time in his life. The Irish-American dancing legend shared earlier this year that he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed aggressive form of cancer. However, several months later, he says he still has good days and bad days.
View this post on InstagramRead MoreFlatly is considered the “undisputed champion of modern Irish step dancing,” according to the National Endowment for the Arts. He’s since spent more than two decades producing “Lord of the Dance,” which provides audiences with “high-energy Irish dancing, original music, storytelling and sensuality,” according to the franchise’s website.
“I have good days and bad days. On the good days, I’m fighting fit and feel like a million bucks,” Flatly told Ireland news outlet the Irish Mirror.
Again, while Flatly hadn’t provided intimate details on his cancer diagnosis or the type of cancer he was diagnosed with when he learned he had cancer, he said it was like a gut punch.
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“It was certainly a punch of the solar plexus when I got the diagnosis. It’s a long, hard road. I’m not going to lie. I’ve already made up my mind: I’m on the other side of that wall. I will not be defeated,” Flatly said.
In an Instagram post about his diagnosis, Flatly said he underwent “surgery and is in the care of an excellent team of doctors.”
He added that he’s trying to “keep a positive attitude” despite the “challenging times ahead.”
He also added that he’s relying on his faith to help his mindset remain resilient while on his journey.
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This latest bout with cancer is Flatly’s second cancer diagnosis. He battled melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer, in the early 2000s.
Helping Patients Understand Skin Cancer and Prevention
Finding Ways to Cope With a Diagnosis
While we don’t know many details of Flatly’s day-to-day cancer journey, we can tell his diagnosis has caused him a bit of stress. Psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik explains to SurvivorNet that your emotions after a diagnosis can range from moments of anger to sadness and fear in a short span of time.
“The patient or person going through the stressful event should accept that emotions will be fluid. You may feel fine one day and then feel a massive wave of stress the next. It’s also important for those you look to for support, whether that’s a therapist, friends, and family, or both, to understand the fluidity of stress-related emotions,” Dr. Plutchik said.
If you are coping with a stressful diagnosis, SurvivorNet recommends checking in on your mental health. Your mindset impacts your ability to cope, and the added stress may require the assistance of a mental health professional. This could mean traditional talk therapy, medication, changing lifestyle habits (like exercise and diet), seeking out a support group, or many other approaches.
Things to Know About Melanomas
While Flatly’s current cancer diagnosis remains unknown publicly, we can share some helpful details about his previous skin cancer battle with melanoma. It is the most dangerous form of skin cancer because of its likelihood to spread to other parts of the body. It starts in the same cells that give your skin, hair, and eyes their color. In melanoma, the cells change in a way that allows them to spread to other organs.
Changes to a mole you’ve had for a while or a new growth on your skin could be signs of melanoma, according to SurvivorNet’s experts. You’ll want to watch them and tell your doctor about any changes you notice.
You’re most likely to find melanoma on sun-exposed skin areas like your face, neck, arms, and legs. Surprisingly, you might also find them in other places as well, like:
The palms of your hands or soles of your feet, On your eyes or mouth, and Under your nails.
SurvivorNet skin cancer experts recommend avoiding unprotected sun exposure because ultraviolet (UV) radiation can lead to melanoma. Tanning beds pose ultraviolet radiation risks for skin cancer and should be avoided. Many dermatologists recommend using spray tans to reduce the risk of melanoma skin cancer.
The most important thing to look out for when it comes to finding melanoma is a new spot on your skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape, or color, SurvivorNet’s medical experts say.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, you may have some questions for your doctor. SurvivorNet suggests some of the following to help you on your cancer journey.
- What type of skin cancer do I have?
- What treatment options exist for my type of melanoma?
- Will insurance cover this treatment?
- Would treatment through a clinical trial make sense for me?
- What resources exist to help manage my anxiety because of this diagnosis?