I spent every summer growing up at the lake. I live in Arkansas, so the summers can be brutal. I always blistered, but never thought more of it. When I was about 34, I noticed a mole on my back that looked like it had done some changing. I thought there was no way I could have cancer, I’m too young.
Fast forward a year and this same mole had started itching and bleeding. I googled my biggest fear, melanoma, and was stunned. I went outside and threw up. At that moment, I just knew. I casually mentioned to my husband that I thought I had cancer. He laughed it off for a minute until I showed it to him and then all the Google evidence. Things got very serious. I didn’t want to go the Dr. I knew I had had it for at least a year and the possibility of being sick until I died, terrified me. Thankfully my husband made the appointment and drug me there.
My dermatologist immediately knew it didn’t look good. He scheduled me for a wide excision the next day only to call that afternoon to say because he was so certain, he didn’t feel the need to biopsy it, he was going to send me straight to an oncology surgeon. On July 24, 2014, I went in to have a wide excision and sentinal lymph node biopsy. Unfortunately, it came back in a lymph node, so on September 19, 2014, I had a complete axillary dissection. I didnt qualify for any trials , so my options were to watch and wait or interferon. I chose to try interferon. The day after Christmas 2014, I started my first treatment and lasted through 7. It was not good to me. I was very I’ll, so much so that it wiped out my potassium. I decided to quit the high dose and a couple months later decided to try the low dose and see if I could tolerate that. Turns out, it was even worse on my body. I abandoned ship.
Today, I’m 2 1/2 years from diagnoses and I visit the surgeon, oncologist, and dermatologist every 6 months. I’m very vigilant about my skin now. Melanoma is something you can never understand until you or someone you love is diagnosed. I feel like I live 6 months at a time until my scan comes back clear and I can breathe again. I just want to make sure that I educate as many as I can….if you know better, you do better!