I had a mole on my left upper arm removed in May 2014 and 3 weeks later received a phone call that it was melanoma. It was less than a cm but it had a metotic rate of 3 which meant I would have to see a team of melanoma specialists at our local cancer center in Grand Rapids, MI. I was quickly scheduled for a sentinel node biopsy and wide local excision. The dr. said there was only a 5% chance they would find melanoma in my SN. It came back positive for melanoma. At that point, I was scheduled for a pet scan and CLND. Again, only a 5% chance they would find anything. But if they did it would save my life.
I was only 32 with a 1 year old and a 3 year old at home. Sure enough after removing 21 lymphnides, 3 came back with small traces of melanoma. Stage 3B. At the time, I was told the only option for treatment was interferon which did not offer great success. With two little kids at home, I decided to decline treatment. I did not want to risk being sick for a year with only a minimal success rate.
My body apparently does not handle surgery well. I had my drain tube for 2 months which was a nightmare. I immediately had swelling which was diagnosed as lymphadema. I had what I consider a sizeable hematoma that occurred under my arm pit due to fluid build up and scar tissue. It continued to grow so they went in 6 months after my CLND and removed that as well. Luckily no sign of melanoma. One year after my diagnosis, I decided to seek treatment at the University of Michigan. I continued to follow up with blood work and ct’s.
Thanks be to God, I am coming up on my 3 year anniversary of my diagnosis and I have no evidence of disease. Cancer free woohoo! I still continue to struggle with lymphadema in my arm but mostly my left breast and chest area. This can be frustrating and a constant reminder of the melanoma but I continue to try and do my best to be positive.