Melina Hairston, Stage 0
As long as I can remember in my childhood I was frequently sunburnt, the peeling, itching and blistering burns on my shoulders. In my late teens/early 20’s my Dad and employer would buy me memberships at tanning places. Back in my early 20’s I was referred to a dermatologist for yearly checks. This went on until I went away for college and then I no longer saw a dermatologist.
In 2009 (29 YO) I went to my GP (general doc) for an ugly looking mole that I ended up learning I’ve probably had most of my life (normal). He asked if I wanted him to do a whole body check and I said sure, why not.
He spotted a different mole on my shoulder and said “this looks like a classic melanoma.” I didn’t know a lot about it (even though I work in the medical field), but I knew that word was bad. He said, we could wait and see if it changes. He said I would have a big scar if he removed it. He said we would know because it would change fast. I thought about having a one year old baby at home and how busy I was. I knew I wouldn’t “watch” it and probably wouldn’t come back to the Dr.’s office. I told my doc, “you said the “M” word, please remove it.
It was a light tan colored mole about the size of a pencil eraser with a dark brown spot mid center. It was excised and reexcised to get cleaner margins (no other treatment). It was a 1A. I’m thankful to still be here.
What has helped me is finding ways to be healthier and stronger. I have lost 100 lbs, I make my own lotions with green tea and antioxidants. I supplement vitamin D, eat paleo and exercise to keep myself sane. The worry has been the hardest part. Since my melanoma diagnosis I have met 20+ year survivors – Stage I, II, III and Stage IV. This gives me a lot of peace. You can beat this too!!