My name is Jessica Hunter. I am a 25-year-old registered nurse, and I was diagnosed with melanoma on July 13, 2011.
In June 2011 I had gone to my dermatologist because I had noticed that I had a strange mole that probably needed to be removed. My dermatologist removed it the day of my appointment and then I did not think anything about it until 4 weeks later when I got the phone call from my dermatologist that said, “You have melanoma. I have no idea what stage it is currently but you need to go see a surgeon and an oncologist immediately.” It took me a while to understand the severity of what he had said because I was thinking “Well, they took the mole off and skin cancer is just usually superficial, right?” Unfortunately I was wrong.
I had my appointments with the surgeon and my oncologist, and it was discovered after the first surgery that I actually had Stage IIIB melanoma, which meant it had spread to my lymph nodes and they would need to be removed. This was very shocking, but they did move pretty quickly on the surgery. Recovery from that surgery took about 4 weeks, and I had to have a drain the entire time. 🙁 The next step was treatment called Interferon. I had to complete 1 month of high-dose treatment, which was 5 days a week M-F for about 4 hours a day. After that month was over, I had/have 11 months of lower-dose interferon, which is subcutaneous shots three times a week that I can do from home. I am currently 6 and a half months in, and I am very excited to be past the half-way point.
My life has changed so dramatically since the diagnosis happened last July. Not only have I matured as a person but my priorities have completely changed. My life and being active and happy is the number one goal in my daily life. This happened to me for a reason, and I want to spend the time that I have been given by helping educate others on appreciating life and also keeping themselves healthy. One of the people I get a lot of inspiration from is Kris Carr, the author of Crazy, Sexy, Cancer. She does a lot of education on lifestyle and what changes it is really important to make. Another thing is I have educated myself and my loved ones on the bad habits/products/lifestyle things that we used to do every day that have the potential to cause cancer or other harm to our bodies. For example, I never really wore sunscreen as a kid and I went tanning in college, so those are probably the main reasons I developed melanoma. I think education is definitely lacking in our society about these risk factors and what these things can do to our bodies.
Much love, hugs, and prayers to those out there who are fighting for their lives and the amazing people who support them.