Survivor Stories

J Brooks, Stage II

Diagnosed  05/09/2016

Earlier in the year I noticed some skin changes occurring in multiple places. The first was a dark mole that appeared on my back and started to bleed and the second a weird dark patch underneath my foot which also had what appeared to be a plantar wart next to it. I made an appointment to see my GP and went to have them checked.
She wasn’t too concerned about the foot but immediately recognised that the dark mole on my back should come off and sent me off to a skin specialist to have a look at it.

It took over 6 weeks to get an appointment for the specialist and then a week before I got a call to say the specialist had to cancel the appointment leaving me with another 6 weeks to wait for the next appointment.
I decided then to go see someone else and was able to get into them the following week. That specialist was also focused on my back and disregarded the sore and dark patch on my foot, suggesting it was likely to be a foot fungus of some type.

The back mole was excised and sent off for testing and I was not surprised when it came back confirmed as a melanoma. I went back in the following week and had a wider incision done and the results came back confirming the margins were clear and we got it in stage 1. Phewww!

In the meantime, the ‘thing’ under my foot kept playing on my mind so I went to a different GP who agreed, it looked highly suspicious and was not a foot fungus. He suggested I go back to the Skin Specialist and ask for a biopsy to put my mind at ease, stating that if they wouldn’t do it at the Skin clinic he would do it in his surgery but was reluctant to do so because it would likely need a skin graph due to the size of area that needed removing.

Off I went and saw the Skin Specialist again and like the first time, he attempted to assure me that it wasn’t anything to worry about. I then told him that a GP had said I should be insistent about getting it biopsied, so he said he would do it but that I would need to make yet another appt. So, two weeks and a third appointment later and a punch biopsy was taken (didn’t think it was serious enough for an excision) and off I went home to wait.
Two days later ( a Friday) the Specialist is on the phone and I knew it was bad as I saw 3 missed calls from his office. He began by apologising profusely and told me the sample had come back as a positive malignant melanoma and that it was very advanced at 4mm thick and that I needed to get into a surgeon ASAP to have it removed. I cant express the anger I felt right then (and still do).

I was in hospital the very next week where they removed a 45 x 35 x 6mm area under my heel which was then covered with a thin skin graph. That was last week and yesterday I received the pathology report which indicates I am in the intermediate stage (11B) with a 4mm thick ulcerated melanoma and needed additional margins of 2cm removed around and under the section already taken, this is scheduled for next Monday. I will also need to have a sentinel node radioactive test done on the morning of the operation and I’m told to expect this to be quite painful.

Depending on the results of the sentinel node testing, my staging may be elevated to stage 111.
I found this site while trying to decipher what is written on my pathology report because I received very little explanation from the surgeon and am not going back to the Skin Specialist for obvious reasons.
I guess the lesson I have learned thus far is that we should always trust our own instincts and never become complacent when it comes to changes in/on our body. While we often rely on medical professionals to pick these sorts of things up, we need to be more assertive when it comes to our health and well being. This also goes for our children who rely on us to be advocates on their behalf.

Feeling sick and your GP says there is nothing wrong? Get a 2nd opinion!

Don’t like the look or feel of a mark on your body? Request a biopsy!