This is a hard post to write, but I want to share my life as of late with all of you. Also for myself, writing is therapeutic and this is a journal of sorts for me and my family.
Five years ago this month I was operated on for Melanoma Stage 1B. At the time I didn't realize the gravity of the situation, which in retrospect was a blessing because I would have been way more terrified going into surgery. (Read here for more information on the stages of Melanoma)
They excised a massive portion of my right forearm and 3 lymph nodes under my right arm. Luckily nothing had spread to my lymph nodes, which meant no chemotherapy. The excisions took months to fully heal, and even now from time to time I'll feel a little pull from the stitches underneath my skin.
Every 6 months I have been visiting the oncologist for check-ups, as I'm now considered a high-risk patient. Mind you, I've never been in a tanning bed in my life. I've not purposely gone out in the sun with no protection to burn/tan. The doctors have come to the conclusion that my body is simply pre-dispositioned for this cancer.
Each appointment during the past 5 years I've held my breath until I got that phone call. The doctors office letting me know the biopsy came back as negative. That was the case until March 14th.
I was sick with a killer flu. Throwing up, body aches, sore throat, the works; couldn't be far away from my restroom for very long. I got a phone call from my dermatologist saying that 2 of the 5 spots came back as something. The spot on my back was Melanoma Stage 0 and the mole that grew on top of my Melanoma scar came back as "highly atypical" which is essentially the pathologist saying it was on its way to becoming cancer.
I was home alone when I received the call, and held my composure with the doctor while I was speaking with her on the phone. As soon as it was over, I got weak in the knees and just cried and cried. I knew what was coming, and this time I knew how serious it was.
I called my mom first because I knew Ryan was in class for another hour. I was crying so hard that my mom couldn't make out what I was saying at first. Once I calmed down, I was able to explain the situation and she made arrangements to be at my back surgery that week and the oncologist and mole mapping doctor appointments.
I had the mole on my back excised 2 weeks ago. It is still healing, and last week the oncologist took out stitches from underneath the wound because my body was rejecting it and not healing properly. I had the mole excised from my forearm this past Wednesday, it's still pretty ugly and painful.
Right after surgery I feel pretty ok because the local anesthetic is still in effect. I was under the impression that I would only have 1-2 stitches on my forearm because the mole was so small. My mom and I were in Target purchasing new bandages, when I decided to unwrap the bandage on my arm and noticed the 7-8 stitches, swollen skin, and spots of blood covering my old Melanoma scar. I was taken by surprise and felt the tears streaming down my face in the middle of the Orem Target.
My mom was coming back to the cart from another aisle and saw the look of gut-wrenching sadness on my face and brought me in for a huge hug. Over the past few weeks I've felt emotionally raw, vulnerable, helpless, and despondent. I'm sure we've all felt that way in one fashion or another. When I first had the excision on my back, where no one could see, it opened my eyes to other people's pain and suffering that we can't see on the outside. I've been working on being kinder to others; since I never know what wounds, physical or emotional, they are nursing back to health.
The past few days I've been at home recovering. I tire easily, as I'm still healing from 2 chunks of skin being taken from my body. I've been blessed and lucky to have an amazing support system. I wouldn't be recovering this well without all the help I've received from family, friends, and strangers.
I've always told the doctors that I'd rather have scars than skin cancer. My thoughts occasionally make its way to my future family. This is a cancer I need to take care of to be there for my husband and future babies. Even though it is frustrating to be in pain and helpless, I'd rather take care of this now than let it grow and deal with it down the road. I can show my babies all my scars and be proud of them, as they are a symbol of strength and a reminder of how much I've overcome to be there for my family.
Please get you and your families checked, it is only a quick trip to the dermatologist. Protect your skin, and your family! Thanks for letting me share :)