Survivor Stories

Valerie Large, Stage 0

Diagnosed 05/21/2012

I had two tiny freckles on my upper right arm and when I went to my annual health check by my GP she pointed out that one of them was darker than she was comfortable with. The skin was not raised in any way but it was true it was very dark. I made an appointment with my dermatologist and he said he didn’t think it was anything. Over the next few months it became summer and one day at the pool I noticed my dark freckle was beginning to expand outward with small lobes but still not above skin level. I returned to the dermatologist who still wasn’t worried but did a biopsy because I said it had changed since my last visit. A week later I got a call to see him again and the melanoma diagnosis was confirmed. I was in shock. I thought of myself as a “heart attack” type than a “cancer type”.
In Quebec,  for melanoma, they have a prescribed time limit between diagnosis and treatment (possibly due to a former prime minister dying of melanoma). In a couple of weeks I had a consultation appointment where he confirmed stage 0, or  “in situ” melanoma. About ten days later it was excised. I had a checkup about a month later and all was fine. I religiously wear sunscreen now and avoid over-exposure.
I have had skin checks annually since. I am more aware of skin cancer now, so when I developed a strange looking pimple on my nose last year I have been diagnosed with a much much less aggressive skin cancer and had it excised.

Moral: trust your own instincts and stay alert to skin changes. Don’t ignore anything because you are afraid of is much better the earlier it is found and treated.