Ten years ago I heard those three awful words: you have cancer. Specifically, Stage IIIa melanoma. At that time, receiving this diagnosis had a poor prognosis. Statistics would say I had about a 60% chance to survive 5 years, and even less to survive 10 years. After two surgeries that left major scars on my leg and 11 months of treatment that made me constantly feel like I had the flu, I was – thankfully – told I no longer had cancer.
We all know either from personal experience or through someone we love that a cancer diagnosis completely upends your world. I am no exception, my life changed dramatically both inwardly and outwardly. Also, the anxiety that comes from doctors appointments and tests has lessened over the years, but it never completely goes away. With the progression of science, though, there are now several treatment options available for this awful disease, and that helps calm some fears because melanoma is a sneaky bastard and has a high rate of return.
I know I am among the very lucky ones to still be cancer free. My PSA for everyone is please, please wear sunscreen and protective clothing regularly; do not use tanning beds; avoid sunburns, and get anything checked out that doesn’t look right on your body. Melanoma is preventable, especially when caught early!!