Carol Candlen, Stage I
In December of 2015, I made my first appointment with a dermatologist at which time I had a suspicious lesion removed from my right calf; the lab report showed no malignancy. Seven months later, I returned with another suspicious lesion, this time on my back: a large blue mole! My lab report read, “Compound Nevus with Focal Atypia”…a second, deeper excision was done and this time I received the diagnosis of melanoma…yikes! Fortunately, it was diagnosed early at stage 1A.
Two days ago, I went in for a third excision to check for any progression and I am currently awaiting lab results. I will be getting checkups every three months for the foreseeable future.
I had a fierce sunburn as a teenager, and used tanning booths so I would be “pre-tan” for a vacation trip; I wish I knew then what I know now! My brother and mom also have had a diagnosis of melanoma…so this nasty business is apparently in the genes.
My advice? Even if you’ve never had a burn or used a tanning booth, make an appointment with a dermatologist; simply checking yourself isn’t sufficient, as melanoma can show up in areas of your body you may not be able to see, and spots on your skin may look innocent to you, but are in fact “suspicious” to a doctor. Make sure you keep your appointments, as melanoma can spread quickly. Nobody likes going to the doctor, but this beast can nail you…get over your hesitation; melanoma is serious business!
Make sure to spread the word, as everyone is a potential target. Don’t let denial and/or fear keep you away from a full body exam at least once a year.