It was one of those years. When I began writing this blog I decided to share the ups and downs along the way. I have been amiss and have fallen short. I absolutely did not want to draw undue attention to myself. A poster child I am not. Plus I didn’t want to relive the drama that unfolded from my diagnoses. Call me weak I suppose. If you have been through it, you get it. Yet, people have been through much worse experiences than this! I write this only to draw attention to misconceptions that I definitely had.
My first hurdle I confronted this past October. I was very good about having a yearly visit to my Dermatologist for my all over body check. I had the Basel Cell and the Squamous Cell dug out of my thumb and my leg. No problem. After my yearly visit to my Dermatologist, I received a telephone call from her PA telling me she felt I needed to have my cheek biopsied. She was my Angel. She took it upon herself to look at my chart, compare it with the previous year and was concerned. She told the Doctor she wanted to have a biopsy done on my cheek. I thank her because she was, perhaps, a life saver.
My Dermatologist had never taken a biopsy of the spot on my face….it looked like a large old age spot (or liver spot if you will) and, in fact, she prescribed bleaching cream, laser, and zapped it (I like to say) by burning it off with CO2 over the years! Five years of everything BUT a biopsy! Surprise! The mark still was there. It bothered me and she knew it since I could not cover it up with makeup. So every year I would ask her about it and she would then laser or burn.
After the biopsy I was diagnosed with Melanoma on my face I went into a bit of a tailspin. WHAT? A good cry. Why me? Why not me? Now what? Surgeon? Who? Plastic Surgeon since it was on my face after all! MOHS or Excised? How deep will it be? Will it already be in my lymph nodes? Will it be in my Bloodstream? Why didn’t the damn Doctor know about this years ago? Anger, self-pity, annoyance and hours and hours spent researching (thank you Daphne) and ‘interviewing’ surgeons! It was a nightmare. Stress city.
So why write about it now? It doesn’t hurt to give more attention to this type of cancer in my opinion and to read about experiences. After all, Melanoma can very well be deadly and every year the number of people getting Melanoma increases. In fact, 91,000 new cases will be diagnosed in 2018 and close to 10,000 people are expected to die this year from it. (cancer.org) I wish I had been more proactive with my concerns.
In describing Melanoma the script may read something like…”Melanoma may appear as a dark spot or wound that does not heal, or one that grows, changes shape or bleeds.” Really? (www.cancercenter.com/melanoma/cancer) I’m sure many Melanomas may be described like this but NOT in my case.
Think about this. I had this Melanoma on my face for five years. My highly rated Atlanta Dermatologist wasn’t concerned obviously since she never biopsied it. I could have gone another year with it lingering and could very well have had a different outcome. My conclusion…Doctors don’t always know.
Melanoma can look like many things. Mine looked like an old age mark dealt by the sun. Be aware of marks etc. that may look like mine. It was not black. It was brown. Flat, not raised as a mole with an irregular border. It never changed shape nor did it bleed. It was not growing larger as far as I could determine.
What’s my point? I have had two dermatologists let me down. Both with excellent ratings. We must be diligent checking our own bodies and ask and then tell our doctors what we think we need. Question diagnoses if it just doesn’t sound right. Tell doctors that you WANT a biopsy. Don’t assume they are always right! We know our bodies better than any doctor that may only see us once a year during a checkup.
I am happy to report that my surgeon got it all and it had not progressed to lymph nodes. It was surprisingly deep but not life-threatening. A heartfelt thank you again to the P.A.
Next time…..my second ordeal! Knee replacement. Two weeks post-op. A blow-by-blow. Ain’t life a ride??
Thanks for reading.