Hi, my name is Samantha, and I am 23 years old. I first got melanoma May 2011. It appeared on my stomach, and I was not sure what it was. By the time I finally went to the doctor and got it checked out, they told me it was Stage III melanoma and that I needed surgery to remove it. So I went in for surgery, and before I got it, they said I needed a scan to see if it had spread anywhere. It turned out that it had moved it to the lymph nodes in my arm pit. So they had to go in and remove 20 of my lymph nodes.
It took a while for me to heal but I did recover nicely. After my surgery, I had to be on a medicine called interferon. I had to be on this medicine for a year. Within this year I lost half my hair, and so I shaved it off and started over. Right after that they lowered my medicine, and I started to get it back. But I actually liked it short, so it was not so bad. I experienced drowsiness and I was very exhausted, but I stayed positive. After my year, I was so relieved to be off my medicine. I now have been off it for a year, and I feel great.
Since they first found my melanoma, I have had three other melanomas appear, but I got those just in time. They just had to take small biopsies out and just in the doctor’s offices. But I have had five other biopsies that I got taken off early and didn’t get to that stage.
I have not ever really gone in a tanning bed, but I like to be in the sun and that is my downfall. But I have learned to stay positive and wear lots of sunscreen and sit in the shade. And always keep an eye out for any changing spots.
I would like to tell people never wait to go get checked out. If you see something suspicious, go in and get it checked out.