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July 9, 2014 at 2:26 pm #22085redheaddivaParticipant
Just a few weeks ago, I knew nothing about melanoma aside from it being skin cancer and that I was at a higher than average risk because of my red hair, fair skin, family history, and history of blistering sunburns as a child.
Around last Christmas, my sister noticed this spot on my upper right shoulder blade that she didn’t like the looks of…it really stood out amongst my many freckles. She told me to have it looked at and I pretty much brushed her, and it, off…without another thought.
I started getting a nagging feeling a few weeks ago when I caught a glimpse of it in the mirror (it’s in a spot that is too difficult to see regularly). I thought maybe I should get it looked at but still didn’t stress because what are the odds, right? About a week later the nagging was stronger so I posted on Facebook asking friends for dermatologist recommendations. One was right down the street from my office so I called on June 26th to make an appointment. I was not able to get in until September 2nd. I was fine with that because I was assuming I was overreacting but my friend who had melanoma (in situ I believe) told me to find someone to get me in sooner. As she was bugging me and that was annoying, I decided I would call the Cleveland Clinic since everything with my knees (they are really bad…I am awaiting a donor cadaver cartilage rebuild) is with them and they claim to offer same day appointments. I called Monday June 30th and was surprisingly able to get in with dermatology two days later, on July 2nd. Went for the appointment, she did a deep shave biopsy, did a quick once-over on my body and that was that…off I went.
My fiance and I were on vacation from work last week so the next day (Thursday July 3rd) we traveled a couple hours away to visit this great zoo with my kids and mother. I kept my phone on silent as I wanted to enjoy my family. We left the zoo when they closed at 7pm and, because someone left a dog in their car, I pulled my phone out to call someone. I noticed I missed a call from the dermatologist…listened to the message that she wanted to speak to me about the pathology report and to call her Tuesday! I was understandably concerned but there was a lot going on so I let it go. Friday morning, the 4th of July, I saw an email that there was new test results posted to my electronic chart. I logged on and thankfully she didn’t make me wait to know.
Stage 1A superficial spreading melanoma with anatomic (Clark) level II, 0.2mm thick, no ulceration, <1 mitoses/sq mm. Margins were very narrow from what I can gather. But, not bad considering.
I go August 13th for the wide local excision and will just have to follow up every 3 months for skin checks and, of course, hoping that’s the end of this.
It’s nerve-wracking and stressful but I know it could have been much worse. The only reason I wore sunscreen (sporadically at that) was not because of melanoma but because sunburns hurt! I now have a new appreciation for the need to keep my skin safe. Friends have also told me they have made appointments to get spots checked after hearing my story and I hope I can continue to help people understand melanoma, how serious it can be, and prompt them to perform self-skin checks and to get anything concerning looked at sooner than later.
I just wanted to post my story and to thank everyone for having posted theirs. I’ve been doing some research the last few days and reading actual stories has helped my understanding. I hope to help someone else understand what they may be going through as well.
*Here’s to hoping everything turns out well for myself and everyone!
~MichelleJuly 9, 2014 at 5:48 pm #64955TreeFrogParticipant
Thanks for posting your story. I’m so glad you did go to the derm. and that you caught it early. Yes, we all need to watch our skin, especially if we are fair or redheads.
In my case, I have medium-fair skin without many moles, but a few summers ago I noticed one on the back of my thigh, where there weren’t any other moles, and it was darker than the rest of the moles on my body. It was only 3mm across, dark brown, not multicoloured or irregular in any way … but just different. Like you, I eventually got it checked and was lucky to catch it early.
Spread the word! Watch for “ugly duckling” moles.
Thanks again for posting, and we’re here for you if you ever have any questions/concerns.
.47mm depth, Stage Ia SSM removed in 2010July 9, 2014 at 6:51 pm #64956redheaddivaParticipant
Thank you Wendy! The derm’s office just called and they said they were able to get me in for the WLE with a plastic surgeon sooner…on August 1st instead of August 13th. So, that’s good. Hopefully he’ll be able to leave me with as little a scar as possible and maybe my tattoo can be salvaged (it’s about an inch away from the spot). Strange that these are my “concerns.” But I guess I’ve come to accept it is what it is and it was caught early so there’s a high probability all will work out just fine.
~MichelleJuly 10, 2014 at 9:06 pm #64957WorrywartParticipant
Your story sounds really similar to mine. My sister noticed my mole at Thanksgiving, and I blew her off. But an inner voice told me to make an appt. I thought only fair skinned red heads got melanoma. And I also assumed it was always raised and scary looking, whereas mine was a flat freckle like lesion.
It was caught early which is great. Watch your skin for change and keep up w our derm visits.
dx July 2008 with melanoma in situ
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