I am 39 years old (and holding!) and reside in Kentucky. I now see a skin cancer specialist at the Nashville Skin and Cancer Clinic in Nashville, TN for quarterly follow-up visits.
In late August of 2010, I noticed a tiny mole on my abdomen was oozing blood around the edges. The mole itself was tiny, only .5 cm, and was just slightly raised with a normal brownish color. Because one of my very good friends is a dermatologist, I called and told him about this mole. He advised me to come into his office to be examined that week just to be on the safe side since I have had three precancerous lesions removed within the past decade.
Upon visually examining my mole, my dermatologist told me that it needed to be removed but that it did not appear to be anything serious. He performed a shave biopsy for removal and sent it to a dermatopathologist for diagnosis. Within 3 days, my dermatologist delivered the news that I had a Clark’s Level II malignant melanoma. He said that I would need surgery within just a few weeks to have the mole and the surrounding tissue removed. He also told me that I was blessed to have found the melanoma this early and that based on the location of the cancer, it very likely would have spread within 6 months and become fatal. In addition, he told me that based on the melanomas he has seen in the past, my particular lesion did not have the classic appearance of melanoma and that it could have been easily missed had the spot never been biopsied.
In September of 2010, I had surgery to remove four inches of skin around the mole and the surrounding tissue down to the muscle below on my abdomen. I had no lymph node involvement and did not have to endure chemo or radiation. I now see a female skin cancer specialist quarterly for full body examinations. My first post-surgical exam was in November of 2010, and so far, I am cancer-free.
Cancer knows no boundaries. It can strike anyone at any time. There are some ways to be vigilant in finding melanoma. I would stress that any skin lesion that itches, bleeds, or changes colors should be examined. Even the most innocent-looking lesions can turn deadly in a short period of time. I’m so very fortunate mine was caught early. Praise God!