Melanoma Cancer Survivor
I was diagnosed with melanoma 6 years ago, when I was 34. I had a mole on my stomach that started to flake and looked red. I assumed that it was from my waist band rubbing and irritating the mole. When I went to my doctor for my annual physical, I asked if I could have it removed. She referred me to a surgeon who removed the mole in his office and sent it to a lab for testing. A week or so went by and I received a call that it was melanoma. When you hear the word "cancer" you immediately assume the worst. I asked my surgeon if I could die from this and he said (with no emotion) yes. I cried the whole drive home and that evening.
Day of surgery, I walked into the operating room and 3 hours later I woke up in the recovery room to hear the good news; “the cancer had not spread in to my stomach muscle.” I went on to recover, happy that this was behind me. Unfortunately, less than 12 months later, I was diagnosed with my second melanoma on my chest. I went for my 3 month check up with my dermatologist and she removed 2 suspicious moles. She sent them out for testing and a week later I got the call that the one on my chest was melanoma. This mole was smaller than a pencil eraser, how could it be melanoma? A plastic surgeon removed the mole and a week later I got the good news that the cancer had not spread. 0 for 2.
When I say that I had melanoma most people’s first question is “did you sunbathe a lot when you were younger?” When I say no, they’re shocked. And the next question is usually “how was it caught?” At that point I get to educate them about the importance of skin exams, sunscreen and avoiding the sun during peak hours. I am happy to say that I have been melanoma free for 5 years. I have a routine exam with my dermatologist every 5-6 months now and will for the rest of my life. We need to continue to get the word out about early detection and I will continue to share my story with everyone I meet because the general public needs to know that melanoma is a serious form of cancer and can be fatal if not detected early. It can happen to anyone. I wish someone would’ve told me.