Survivor Stories

Michael West

Diagnosed 09/22/2011

I really hadn’t paid much attention to moles and the like. After all, I was a man and scars and pimples were just a way of life. I usually shaved my face with a safety razor like most guys do. Occasionally I would nick the right cheek of my face and have to patch it with a piece of tissue to stop the bleeding. After doing this a couple of time on the right side of my face,  my wife noticed and asked me to mention it to the dermatologist whom I had an upcoming appointment. I did and he didn’t think there was anything to it. Mind you he’s a well-respected (and good) dermatologist.

A few weeks went by and my  wife said she didn’t like the looks of the place on my cheek. I called and moved up the appointment. I told him that I didn’t want to overreact but my wife was nagging me. He agreed to take a biopsy of the small spot and let me know. Laughing about the wife nagging me, he said he would rather take the time to do a biopsy rather than compete with my wife. The next morning he called me and said I needed to come into the office that day because the pathology report indicated it was melanoma. (melanoma in situ) I had no clue what this might mean so I kept the appointment. Following the Mohs surgery I had a large ‘chunk’ of my right cheek removed. Thankfully that got it and there’s not been a recurrence in that area. The photos look terrible but this is what you live with. Actually he did a good job and it’s hard to even see the scar now.

Several months later I had an itching on my left shoulder. As was our practice, my wife kept a close eye on any changes on my skin. She, again, said she didn’t like the looks of the skin and the small rash on the shoulder. I called the dermatologist and informed him that the wife was at it again and that I needed for him to look at a spot on my shoulder. It took a few days but I got in and his evaluation was that it didn’t look like anything but based on my wife’s accuracy rate he would do a biopsy. Guess what? Got the call a few days later and next thing I know I’m back in his office talking to the dermatologist, scalpel in hand. Another melanoma. This one you could put a golf ball into the size of the incision. Labs came back that it was all removed but thank heavens for my diligent wife.

I now go every 3 months for a full body scan. If it looks even the slightest bit out of normal I head for their office. I have continuous basal cell and squamous cell cancers removed all the time but I still get shook up every time at the mention of melanoma. The wife will never know how much I appreciate her determination (and accuracy).