Home Forums Melanoma Diagnosis: Stages I &II I feel guilty, because I didn’t suffer enough…

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  • #21267
    Ellis2ca
    Participant

    Hello Everybody… This is my first post on T1-T2 forum…

    I am almost ashamed to say it, but it is a fact: Now I am a cancer survivor…

    I say I am ashamed to say it, because it makes me feel guilty: I didn’t suffer enough.

    In fact, I didn’t suffer at all.

    Sometimes I wonder if it is “fair” that I should be 67 years of age and my nephew died of cancer at age 5…

    I don’t know why I should have been so lucky… I had cancer and didn’t know it… it had been hiding under my hair at least since late 2010. My girlfriend had mentioned it to me, but of course I didn’t pay any attention to it then. She mentioned it to me again in August, 2012 and she even took a picture of it in August, 2012.

    But again, I didn’t pay any attention to it, because I couldn’t see it, and I didn’t think about it. I forgot about it. Out of sight, out of mind.

    Until I met my brother after not seeing each other for more than a year. My brother took out $200 from his pocket and gave it to me: “Go see a dermatologist to take off the black spots on your face.”

    And so, I went to a dermatologist. The black spots of course were not malignant, but the mole hiding beneath my hair that my girl friend had told me about… that turned out to be a malignant melanoma.

    The dermatologist found it one day in mid-April, 2013, and the next day it was off.

    I read the pathologist’s report a few days later… Breslow .60 mm (T1)… no sign of ulceration (a)… mitosis less than 1 per square mm… no swollen lymph nodes (N0, M0).

    A few days after that my dermatologist was removing the stitches on my scalp… I will have a scar, but nobody will see it because it is already covered up with hair…

    Why was I so lucky? I don’t know… A tall oak tree will grow from an acorn. Smash the acorn, and the tall oak tree can’t grow from the acorn. I was very lucky that we smashed the future oak tree when it was still an acorn.

    They say you make your luck, but my good luck was a combination of my brother and my girl friend together. And the dermatologist too, of course.

    But what if I hadn’t had the black spots on my face?

    So now I am “cured” (I think…) but there are so many others who are truly fighting cancer.

    And there are many more who have a malignant melanoma that can perhaps be cured too, but they are unaware of it. We must do something for them.

    It makes me feel “guilty”… I feel as if I didn’t suffer enough… I didn’t pay my dues to be here.

    And yet, here I am, a bona fide cancer survivor…

    For days after I found out my melanoma had been malignant, I couldn’t talk about anything else. I was a mono-maniac. I had to learn everything I could about malignant melanoma, so that I will learn to watch out for it again.

    And now I know why I’m here. Maybe I got a malignant melanoma to help others to avoid missing their cure. There’s something I had to do, so I want to do it.

    Do you want to join me to help others to detect malignant melanoma on time?

    Thanks for putting up this forum. It feels good to find people who know how I feel, and feel what I feel, and who talk about what I am talking about. – Ellis Toussier

    #60690
    cohanja
    Participant

    In a sense, I understand what you’re saying. But, in another sense, I feel tortured everyday with this diagnosis, even if it never spreads, I worry every single day that it might, so that’s a different kind of suffering I guess.

    #60691
    Catherine Poole
    Keymaster

    Welcome to our forum. This is an interesting viewpoint, one I’ve held at times myself. I was low risk and very very lucky to find my melanoma early but still on the risky side. I then work with patients who unfortunately are dealing with all issues with recurrence and therapies and I feel so fortunate. But I hardly feel like a “survivor” at all.

    #60692
    wpatterson4
    Participant

    I’m sorry that you lost your nephew. You have my condolences.

    When I wake up in the morning, I don’t feel I’m lucky for having had a T1A melanoma; I feel my lymph nodes. Like you, I waited a while to have my melanoma removed, albeit not quite as long. It had the appearance of an ordinary mole. The only reason I had it removed is because I realized that it was new and that I shouldn’t take any chances. Had it been on my back, I would likely be in a casket at the bottom of a hole right now. I could still die.

    That’s enough suffering for me.

    #60693
    cohanja
    Participant

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, I agree wholeheartedly with everything you just said

    #60694
    cohanja
    Participant

    I also think it’s relative. Relative to all the people I know who don’t have this to deal with, I don’t feel lucky at all. Relative to people who weren’t as lucky to catch it early, I guess I feel lucky about that.

    #60695
    Worrywart
    Participant

    You are a cancer survivor! I do get what you are saying though. :)

    As to the others, I think it comes down to what type of person you are – a glass-half-full person, or a glass-half-empty person!

    #60696
    wpatterson4
    Participant

    Wart,

    I don’t think there’s enough liquid in the glass to call it half full. Things could always be worse, but they could be better, too. I’ve lost a lot of time worrying about this. The future is very uncertain, and I don’t know how to plan for the rest of my life. It can come back to bite someone ten years in the future. It will always be on my mind within two or three minutes of waking up in the morning – every day from here on out.

    #60697
    Sznn
    Participant

    :)

    #60698
    cohanja
    Participant

    I AGREE. EVEN IF I NEVER HAVE TO DEAL WITH MELANOMA AGAIN, THE STRESS CAUSED BY IT WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY CREATE OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS. SO TO ME, IT’S NOT ABLE TO BE PUT IN A POSITIVE FRAMEWORK

    sorry, I don’t know why that came out as all caps

    #60699
    Eos99
    Participant

    I enjoyed ellis2ca’s almost lyrical first post, as well as relate to Catherine’s sentiment that (at times) I don’t feel like a “cancer survivor” at all.

    If melanoma is the first thing on one’s mind each and every morning and/or you know the stress of it likely is (or “will”) cause you other health problems, then you may wish to think about the cognitive behavioral therapy, readings, and meditation that are often suggested on this forum.

    Two quotes smacked me in the face as I read the above posts. The first had to do with it being hard to fight an enemy that has outposts in your head. The second along the lines of we see things not as they are, but as we are. I am no doubt massacring the quotes, and I do not mean to diminish the (real) fear you could have/choose.

    I “think” I get what each of you is saying because I straddle both extremes myself. Anything one can do to make himself or herself more comfortable while we’re here is a truly good thing. Whatever gives your life meaning is what you passionately go after, fight for, nurture.

    Much love,

    Eos99

    #60700
    Ellis2ca
    Participant

    Thanks to all who have commented above, and also to those who have read this post and not commented. It is good to know that I am communicating.

    I am still “buzzing” to think of my narrow and complete escape. I am not a religious man, but an experience like this might make a person religious. I am not sure that there is a God that takes care of us, because why would he take care of me, and not take care of others too?

    But in any case: Thank you, God, too.

    In fact, I think of all those who made my cancer cure possible… and I think more and more, and the list goes on and on…

    Thank you, Hippocrates… Thank you, Galen… Thank you, Zacharias Janssen (for invention of the microscope)… Thank you Louis Pasteur… Thank you, Madame Curie… thank you, whoever discovered anesthesia… Thank you, whoever invented the syringe…

    Thank you, many doctors who failed looking for a cure… and thank you, many doctors who succeeded in finding something…

    Who was the first doctor who noticed that an ugly mole might become cancerous? Did doctors 100 years ago know that they could cut out ugly looking moles and prevent a person from dying a few years later? Who first noticed the connection between a mole and death a few years later, and thought it is a good idea to cut off bad moles?

    The list goes on and on and on… I wouldn’t be alive and healthy today, if not for all of them.

    We truly live in a wonderous age. I am 67 years old. The first time I saw a television set, I was 12 years old. Today we can watch television on our pocket telephones… Only Flash Gordon could do that when I was a kid…

    There was a computer at Tulane University (1963-1967) that cost $3,000,000 dollars. It required a room with air-conditioning so that the bulbs would not overheat. It had 8,000 memories… that is 8 K bytes. It took a team of people, each one earning a salary, to operate this monster.

    Today, we have pocket computers connected to each other through the Internet… In effect, the “memory” of a home computer, including all that is on the internet, is essentially infinite. So we can connect our brain to thousands of other brains, and we can learn what others have learned.

    Can you imagine what it must have been like, 30 years ago, to try to get information about malignant melanoma? Today, one month after my malignant melanoma, I am an “expert” on malignant melanoma. (An “expert” is somebody who can talk for 30 minutes in front of an audience about any topic, and the audience finds the talk interesting and does not get up to leave.)

    I could easily talk for much more than an hour about malignant melanoma, and I am sure my audience would be glued to their seats.

    The internet is still very young. Can you imagine what it must have been like in, say 1970, if you were a doctor, and you wanted to learn everything that you could on a topic that just popped up in your practice of medicine? No internet. Just books. Most of them were old and outdated. If you didn’t live near a medical library, you were probably out of luck. Today, even a doctor on an island in the Pacific can find all the information he needs to help his patients.

    And today we can also teach, easily. This is where I’m going. I first want to tell you what I think I am an “expert” on that can perhaps help you. I am not seeking consulting fees. I am not seeking to sell you anything. If what I know can help you, please PICK MY BRAINS. I am an odd-ball, and I think many of the things I think I know can help those who are truly fighting cancer.

    Please forgive me if I seem to be bragging. This is what I think I am an expert on. In no particular order of importance : hormones: growth hormone, EPO, and insulin… correct nutrition… blood glucose… oxygen, and oxygen therapies…

    I was not an expert on malignant melanoma one month ago, but I am sure I can already give lessons to laymen on what this is about… lessons that can save their life, or the life of others.

    I also think I know a lot about internet marketing. I have something I want to market: I want to market (ie, spread the information) what I think I know, so that it can help others to avoid malignant melanoma in particular, and cancer in general.

    And if YOU have something that can help others, but you don’t know how to reach the people you want to help, I can help you to reach those people.

    I have this immense impulse to teach my experience and all that I have learned to others. I’m sure everything I do or write or say has probably been done before, but it doesn’t matter. For me, this is new. I will do it the same, but a little bit differently. Each grain of sand adds a bit, and I have my grain of sand that I think will help.

    This is one cancer that we should be able to help to cure or to avoid. It is skin cancer. It doesn’t need a Cat scan or an x-ray to be seen. We can each become experts on malignant melanoma, so that we can help to spot it on others.

    Anyway… I am here. I am a member of this club. I want to pay my dues. I am not a doctor but what I know is different than what most doctors know. Maybe I am the bridge between a good cancer treatment and the doctors or patients who don’t know it is there.

    This is how I intend to pay my dues.

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