At the height of my career as a software sales executive and in control of absolutely everything in my life – I lost control of nearly everything with a stage III Melanoma diagnosis. I was traveling for business and caught sight of a small dark speck on the upper right side of my back. I was getting ready in a hotel bathroom with a mirrored closet behind me – I would of never seen the mole had I not been on this trip and in this particular hotel. Of course, I dismissed it. I was too busy being me! Three months later on a beach trip with friends, my friend asked me if I had knowledge of this dark and troubling mole on my back? I told her I would make an appointment. Again, I minimized the situation and when I finally got hold of a dermatologist I created zero urgency around my situation. I let them know I needed a skin check, but as a new patient they put me on the schedule for 2 months out.
When I was finally seen, I told the doctor I needed to be checked since I had never been seen. I am fair skinned, blue eyed and loads of freckles and moles. She asked if I had any areas of concern, with which I pointed to my back. Well, she took one look and said this needs to come off immediately with much concern in the tone of her voice. I asked her what she thought it was and she said they would let me know within a couple of weeks. Two weeks turned into only two days. Again, the tone in her voice was telling….Amy, you have Melanoma and I didn’t get the margins – you need to be seen immediately at Washington Hospital Center! What? What is Melanoma…right away…can’t this wait? We hung up and I immediately got on the web and searched on Melanoma only to be faced with my mortality on a number of levels. I was scared and alone. I was a mother of two young children…wife to the love of my life and college sweetheart…living the dream – how does this happen? I never imagined being diagnosed with cancer…why me?
My story starts to look like other Stage III patients at this point…wide excision, sentinel node biopsy, removal of nodes. It has been a journey and it continues to be top of mind for me. I think about Melanoma daily…I border on paranoid when I see something new, different or changing. I am constantly giving my kids the once over. But I do feel blessed to be a part of this club. I am a survivor and I will not let Melanoma take my life. I am committed to advocating for preventing and limiting sun exposure, protection and early detection. Because of my experience I founded www.treatmentdiaries.com to connect those with illness based on shared conditions and experiences through diaries. It has been extremely rewarding and it has given me purpose in my illness. I am reminded every day that life is short. It is important to LIVE each day and do all I can for those in need of the support I so desperately needed when faced with a diagnosis.
I hope my story inspires you to be the very best you can be and to live well in the midst of adversity. You can create purpose in what appears to be a valley…rise above and climb your mountain and inspire those around you.