MY Skin Cancer Experience

I hope this isn't constrewed as "preachy".  This is what I know from being cancer free for 5 years.  I have helped others and just want to get the word out! 

My story starts out 6 years ago.  I know I said I was cancer free for 5 years, but, once I noticed my mole, I went 6 months without telling anyone, and another 6 months before I went to the doctor.  I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS!!!!  (Okay, I'm off my soap box!)  I was at a local conference and at a hotel.  I was brush my teeth, and had shorts pajamas on, and looked in the mirrored doors behind me.  I noticed a black spot about the size of a pencil eraser, on my left thigh.  I licked my finger to try to wipe it off.  that didn't work.  It was on there, and raised.  My gut tightened and I thought right away, this is skin cancer!  I put it in the back of my mind for a while, thinking it would just go away (denial!).

I finally told my mom, and she yelled at me.  She asked me if I rememebered that she had a mole removed from her knee, several years earlier.  I vaguely remembered, and she continued to say that hers was Melanoma.  Now I knewe that mine was skin cancer.  My gut twisted again. 

Six months after that discussion, I still waited 6 months before going to the doctor.  Mon gently reminded me again, and I went.  I was sent to the University of Michigan's dermatology department, and they took 3 biopsies.  The doctor called me at work and asked if this was a good time to talk.  I should have known then that the news wasn't good.  He said my other two came back benign.  The one I had found a year earlier was cancer.  Melanoma.  I would have to have surgery to remove it.

It didn't hit me.  My husband asked me if I had cried yet.  I was offended, but, I knew he was right.  I am an emotional person.  The next day a nurse called and talked to me about scheduling a date for the surgery.  I joked that it was just a "procedure".  Then she said three word that freaked me out.  Malignant.  Melanoma.  Surgery.  It hit me like a ton of bricks. 

I saw the Melanoma Specialist at the U of M, and asked MANY questions.  I asked about sunscreen, and the ingredients I should look for.  I asked why I saw African Americans walking down the hall in a Melanoma clinic.  I was educated right there and have made it my quest to educate people with the facts I learned.  (I'll do another article about those facts later). 

The day of my surgery, I was nervous.  They took me in and I was to lay on a medical table on my stomach.  They gave me a local anesthetic, and asked me if I could feel anything.  At first I said no.  Then, I said "Ow!"  She said she'd give me some more, after that I couldn't feel a thing. They had to take an inch around the moel out, and go in just short of the muscle.  Since you can't close a circle, they had to enlongate it, then stitch it closed.  I now have a 3" scar for a mole the size of a pencil erasser. It took between  30-60 minutes, and I was out of there. 

I was instructed to stay off my feet for one week.  With 2 young boys, I had to re-arrange my couch, so I could see out the front and back windows.  They told me that the leg heals the slowest, and if I didn't stay off my leg, I'd have to take another week off of work.  I couldn't afford that, so I stayed off it as much as I could.  When I had me stitches taken out, the head of the Melanoma Clinic said he could tell I satyed off my leg, and praised my healing. 

Now, you are thinking, she must have been a sun goddess.  Not really!  Yes, I laid out, but I could always find someone else who laid out twice as much as I did.  I did go in the tanning beds in the 80's when they were new.  That didn't last long, since I hated the closterphobic feeling of being in a coffin.  My mom worked at a salon that had one, and she was in it more than me.  Once I started working at a restaurant, I missed most of the high risk sun times (between 10 and 4) and found that I didn't have the time to lay out.  The last time I was in a tanning bed was just before our wedding – 18 years ago.

I hope you have found this informational and useful.

 

About the Author ()

Bubbly, outgoing, faithful, spiritual, insecure, married to my best friend. Mom of 2 boys( wanted girls) but have found a new appreciation for boys. Love being involved in my church and reading devotional readings and prayers.

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