Survivor Stories

Lani Brownell, Stage II

Diagnosed 10/28/18

I had a physical in August and I brought up to my doctor that I had a mole show up on my chin.  It  had been there about a year, but lately it had been cracking and bleeding. She recommended I get an appointment with a Dermatologist. She helped to pull some strings because they were booked out for months and I was seen 9/17/19.

Once there, the Dermatologist examined me and recommended we just remove the two moles on my chin. She let me know that she would send them away to make sure there was no cancer. I was assured that this was common practice. My phone rang about two weeks later letting me know that one of the moles was benign. But the other they believed to be a spitzoid melanoma. The tissue was sent away to Northwestern, where it would be studied. Weeks went by and I still hadn’t heard anything.

From Northwestern, it was sent to UCLA to have further testing. Finally on 10/22/18 I received a call from my dermatologist telling me that the mole was in fact melanoma. I needed to have more tissue removed. She told me that it was an aggressive type and we needed to act fast. On 10/24/19, I met with an ENT doctor and a plastic surgeon that worked together in our area. They scheduled surgery for me on 10/26/18 where I had 3 lymph nodes removed and I had a hole removed from my chin about the size of a golf ball.

After the surgery,  the hole had to remain open until they got work back that the margins and lymphnodes were clear. The following week I got the call that everything was clear and my plastic surgeon went in to sew up the hole. Because I was so young and the hole was so big I didn’t have the elasticity in my skin and the tissue started to die and turn black. I had to let the area heal as much as it would before she could go in and remove the scar tissue and sew it back up. I’ve been seeing the plastic surgeon ever since to try different procedure to fix the scar on my face. Since that the area has healed over but I have a huge scar on my face and have lost some of the function of the left side of my mouth.

Before this I had never given Melanoma a thought. Now I am forever scarred by something that has changed my life forever. I will forever be an advocate for sunscreen and promoting visits to the dermatologist. Had I not brought it up to my doctor the ending of my story could have been very different.