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Melanoma and my Lucky Day

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Story:

In April of 2003, I went to the doctor for a routine Blood Pressure Check (I have high blood pressure). During that visit I had him look at what I thought was a persistent zit on my back-and my world changed instantly. He did a biopsy (barely waited until the ink was dry on the consent form) and two days later called with the news that I had the worst kind of skin cancer - melanoma. I was to see a specialist on Monday.

My world spun as I became educated about cancer. Surgery followed with the good news that my skin cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes so I was classified Stage I. And seven years later, I am still NED (No evidence of Disease). But the bad thing about melanoma is you are not considered cured after 5 years-it can still come back even after 20 years. But life doesn't wait for the prognosis and I have been very lucky-all because of a chance comment to the doctor during an office visit. I shudder to think what might have happened if I had not said anything that day. I was 45 when diagnosed. If the cancer had traveled to the lymph nodes, you have about a 50% chance of living 5 years. I was VERY glad to celebrate my 50th birthday!

I have met many friends online at the Melanoma Research Foundation's patient information board while researching and going through my surgeries. And unfortunately many have passed on in seven years. The bad thing about melanoma is that there is no cure. Only trial chemotherapy or drugs that may or may not help. Research has come far in 7 years, but much more is needed. The board is at www.mpip.org and I do recommend the board to anyone who has a diagnosis of melanoma. There are wonderful people who will share information and encourage you throughout the process. And they do take donations for research funding.

So please use that sunscreen, stay out of tanning beds and do not get sunburned. If you are high risk (fair skinned, red or blonde hair, blue, green or hazel eyes) then get a skin check annually. And if you ever have a mole change-see a dermatologist promptly. It could save your life. It did mine-and I was a brown haired, hazel-eyed farm girl who didn't use a tanning bed.

Don't forget to do all your other cancer checks too.
It helps to be pro-active and catch it early - no matter how afraid of the diagnosis you may be.
It IS a matter of life and death!

A 7 year Survivor
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD4756432
    thanks for an informative and inspiring blog. emoticon
    4106 days ago
    I am so glad you mentioned your blog. I just read it and wanted to let you know that I just had a biopsy done on a spot on the left side over my rib cage that had been kind of a reddish color. I looked two weeks ago and it had turned black. I got mine biopsied and it came back as seborrhic keratosis which is not uncommon in older people. The biopsy was negative and I was so relieved.
    4108 days ago
    Congratulations on being cancer free, and thank you for sharing your story with us! emoticon
    4110 days ago
    Great blog, thank you so much for sharing your story!
    4110 days ago
    That is some story and thank you for sharing it. Your survival will give others hope and the warning to get help fast can't be stressed too much. I would rather be told it's nothing than take a chance. I am so happy for you.
    4110 days ago
    I'm so happy that you are cancer-free and wish you many, many more wonderful years out in front of you. I'm glad you caught this early. You're right. It's SO important to get things checked out. Even though I've never been a tanner, as a child, before people knew about such things, I practically lived outdoors. I recent got a spot on my chest that really scared me. Fortunately, it turned out to be nothing to be alarmed about. I don't have a clue how I could have afforded treatment if it had been anything requiring surgery. I was just very blessed that day. But melanoma is not something to mess around with.

    Again, I'm glad for you and feel like you've done a real service to anyone out there who might read your blog and get that little mental nudge that maybe they ought to see a doctor, too.

    Celebrating with you...!
    4110 days ago
  • KITT52
    I had uterine cancer when I was 34, they found it when I was having my annual papsmear, doctor said something doesn't look right and sure enough they did a biopsy and it was positive. I was lucky too.... that was 23 years ago...I thank God each day for my doctor, I still see him, for being a caring and observant doctor..

    we are all blessed we are here to tell about it....


    4110 days ago
    I am so glad you are now doing well
    4110 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your story. I don't worry about myself because I have dark skin, dark eyes, dark hair and few freckles/moles. My husband was blonde growing up (his hair is darker and more gray now) with blue eyes, fair skin, and covered in freckles/moles. I'm always checking his skin because he spent several years in a job where he was outside for 10-12 hours a day.
    I'm so glad that your dr. was very proactive about it too. So many times I have heard of drs. who have dismissed symptoms only to have things be much worse than anticipated.
    Just keep doing what you're doing and I know you'll soon be celebrating your 10 and 15 year anniversaries as a survivor!
    4110 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6986951
    That really puts thing in perspective. I'm very happy for you that things did turn out ok! Now I will stop feeling bad that I walked 4 miles on the treadmill for the first time and didn't lose an ounce there really are more important things to be considered. emoticon
    4110 days ago
    Congrats on being a survivor! That's something else we have in common! I was diagnosed with endometrial (uterine) cancer at age 46. It was only by the grace of God that we caught it as early as we did -- my gyn-onc (gynecologist oncologist) said I'd probably had it for a year before it was found, and it's a wonder it hadn't spread. My 10-year "birthday" is this October and I'm very thankful for that milestone. People do need to be very pro-active and monitor their health!

    4110 days ago
    glad to hear you are doing ok i didn't know all that my day had some a while back and i never knew it could come back.
    4110 days ago
    I'm so glad you had that "zit" checked! I agree with Lainie...your blog just might have saved someone's life!

    Love you! emoticon
    4110 days ago
    Congratulations Diana!! Great blog and maybe you will have saved someone by posting this.



    p.s. No you can't have Guido. He's all mine. lol
    4111 days ago
    That really was your lucky day! I'm so glad you're doing so well and have no evidence of disease! My MIL was dx with melanoma over 30 years ago and is still doing quite well! Congrats on taking care of you!
    4111 days ago
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