My story began seven years ago with an odd trip into surgery to fix a broken nose and have a turbinoplasty done. While under the influence of pre-meds my doctor asked if I wished to have a “suspicious mole on my chin removed”. Laughing and joking the whole way to surgery, I exclaimed sure why not!!
This surgery was the first of many things to come and little did it prepare me for what I was going to face in the weeks and months to follow. When I awoke from surgery, I had a very large upside-down T-shaped incision on my chin. This was my first facelift ever and I had never even asked for one!! In my traditional style, I laughed off the unfortunateness of this. I even joked that Halloween was shortly around the corner. I could show off my new scar as “The Bride of Frankenstein.” A few weeks passed and my doctor called me in to confirm a positive melanoma diagnosis.
A barrage of testing soon ensued to make sure my thyroid, carotid, and lungs were clear of this new diagnosis. All was great no new news to report. Whew!!
Fast forward to current times, and I still laugh, cry and even share a few brief moments of worry with each new diagnosis and bump in the road thrown at me. But I do so proudly with a smile on my face. I am a melanoma warrior!! I am the current 18% chance of survival for a stage 4 melanoma patient at the 3-year mark of diagnosis and guess what I have a title I never knew I would be holding: yep a walking $22,000 per month piggy bank and miracle!! Yes, I have been through radiation and endured the horrific burns that go with it. I have had MRI’s and CT’s. I try to always stay true to my sunshiney, perky personality.
nurse: please be as still as possible and it will be over before you know it.
me: ok but can I listen to music while you perform these tests?
nurse: sure what kind of music…and then while deep in thought and the jackhammer of the machine pounding away in your brain you realize the machine has the same rhythm as Lady Gaga’s song Poker Face!
I have since covered up my battle scars on my arm from a radial forearm flap with a gorgeous ocean scene, my happy place. I continue to make lemonade from lemons just sweeter with an extra amount of me injected in. Melanoma does not define me! It is only a small part of what makes me, me.