I have been wanting to put this out for a while now…as in earlier posts I alluded, I actually had quite the legitimate reason for being more absent minded with posts, other than my usual “was just too busy” excuse(s). On April 23, 2013 I found out I had melanoma skin cancer. Yes, cancer… And the most serious of skin cancers at that. I’m 28. I’m young. Yet, I, with youth on my side, was not immune to cancer.
Let’s back up a little… I had been tanning in tanning beds for like 12 years. This, although vain on my part, was not an everyday thing, but it was a part of my usual routine. For like the last 4 or 5 years I even had the actual membership that automatically withdrewv money from my bank account every month. Well, this past January I had a hold put on my membership because I thought I was pregnant and I didn’t want to risk roasting a little embryo. Turns out I wasn’t pregnant, which actually turned out to be a positive thing since I was about to endure so much. Anyway, as I began to get paler and paler from lack of tanning, I began noticing more and more patches of freckles and little moles here and there. There was one mole I noticed on my left side, sort of near my back. It was no bigger than the diameter of a pencil eraser, if that, and certainly wasn’t immediately alarming in color or anything to my naked eye. My ocd self wouldn’t let me forget it was there so I showed it to my sister who works at a dermatologist office. She didn’t really think it was anything but told me she would get me set up with an appointment to have things looked over.
I was at the dermatologist withina few days and they of course checked the spot out more closely. She decided to punch biopsy (you can google that for procedure details… Ouch!). She also told me I shouldn’t lose any sleep over things, which is pretty hard to tell a severe anxiety sufferer to do!! A few days later, while I was getting ready to leave work, I get a phone call from the head doctor telling me not to panic but I needed to see a surgical oncologist because I had melanoma cancer. How can you use the words “don’t panic” and “cancer” in the same sentence?! I hear the word cancer and panic ensues. I don’t even remember how the rest of that conversation went, I just remember calling my mom and my husband crying”I have cancer, I have cancer!!”. How I made it home that day crying like I was, I have no idea!! Thanks be to God… For everything.
After medication induced calmnessv set in I was able to get more information/clarification. The melanoma was caught very early (thank you God…and never have I been so glad to have ocd) but yes, surgery was still necessary. The margins were clear depth wise but surgery was necessary to remove the width, plus an additional perimeter amount as precaution. I heard back from the doctor the next day (thank God my sister and friends work at this office, they really helped my treatment get expedited and took great care of me… They are amazing and I am truly blessed/forever grateful)… She had talked to the surgical oncologist and he agreed that my doctor was just as capable to perform the excision procedure as a 2 day procedure, under local anesthesia, as he was doing the same thing under general anesthesia in one day. I was so relieved to hear this, as anesthesia scares me. So, my surgery was scheduled for a Thursday and Friday last month, in May.
** part II will go up soon!!**
DID YOU KNOW that using a tanning bed can increase your risk of melanoma by up to 80%?!!!
I was so naive about my tanning habits, I cannot even believe I brought this on myself. Its amazing how we, as a society, can put vanity before our health. I, of course, will never use a tanning bed again, and I’m very careful about being in the sun in general. I’m amazed at how many people have reached out to me to say that my story has made them quit tanning too!! I feel touched that I can affect others through sharing my story; I’m very big on skin cancer advocacy now. We need to take care of ourselves and look out for each other whenever we can.