Home Forums Melanoma Diagnosis: Stages I &II New here – Wondering how to stop worrying about a recurrence

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  • #21738
    SleepyKitty
    Participant

    Hi. This past summer I had a successful WLE and a negative SNB due to a stage T2a Melignant Melanoma, unclassifiable subtype on my back.

    My primary doctor never thought that it was melanoma, but did a biopsy just to be sure, so I wasn’t concerned at all. I was just glad the itchy spot was gone. Then everything happened so fast. Got the bad news on a Monday, had two previously scheduled sleep studies on Tuesday and Wednesday, got my sleep disorder diagnosis and then met with the surgeon on Thursday, PET scan on Friday, and surgery the following Monday. So I had no time to worry, and they quickly called to say no cells were found in the tissue removed with the WLE. So I happily went on with my life.

    Had my first 3 month follow up skin check, and was told I was good. Told things would be rather easy to spot in the future since I have so few preexisting moles. But I was now told that I should never again have something frozen off (like I did on my leg at the same time as the first biopsy) because while the PET scan didn’t find any other spots, my biopsy pathology looked more like a metastatic lesion. So in the future I would need to have spots biopsied and not frozen. Ok, still not worried, I have a ton of other health problem that occupied my thought.

    Due to life getting in the way, I had to reschedule the next 3 month skin check a little over a month late. I was shocked when he said I had a new spot on my back that showed new growth (3 black dots inside a tan mole), another spot on my back he didn’t like, and then a black bubbly looking growth on the back of my elbow. He was really concerned about that one.

    These biopsy results were pretty good. Two benign, including the scary one near my elbow. The one with the 3 dots came back as only mildly abnormal so I am good for another 3 months unless I spot something first.

    Problem is that now I’m actually worried about this melanoma. I know more now than when I had the surgery. My original spot didn’t look like much from the surface. It only looked a little weird because I scratched it so much. With the unclassifiable subtype, this second wait for biopsy results was an absolute torture. For the first time I actaully was afraid I might die.

    How does everyone go through this every 3 months? I’m already dreading the next check and it is not until mid March. ,

    #63325
    Catherine Poole
    Keymaster

    I was hoping others will give their tips, but here are mine. I am 26 years out of melanoma diagnosis. I find worrying to be a waste of my time. It is counterproductive. Much better to find an action plan that provides relief. Get more knowledge, a second opinion from an expert and then let it lie. Try to meditate and clear your mind of worry, get some aerobic exercise if you can. Eat well, sleep well, avoid depressants, i.e. alcohol. Get counseling if you think it would be helpful and work your worries out. You might also consider antidepressants. Good luck and let us know how you are doing.

    #63326
    cohanja
    Participant

    I actually registered for this in my area later this month:

    CHANGING PATTERNS OF NEGATIVE THINKING AND WORRY WITH HYPNOSIS

    This program will focus on how the mind creates negative thinking/self-talk that creates stress and worry. Participants will learn how they can use hypnosis to interrupt those thought patterns, and will be given an opportunity to practice this technique during the class.

    and previously took one called:

    Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a new approach to handling stressful thoughts and feelings. Research shows that ACT is effective for helping people impacted by cancer overcome obstacles and live a fulfilling life. The two sessions will build upon each other, providing participants with knowledge and tools to put into action immediately.

    #63327
    SleepyKitty
    Participant

    The ACT sounds interesting. I got rid of my PTSD by working on thought replacement exercises. So maybe ACT would be a good match for me.

    Sounds odd but I’ve been a little better this week because I’ve been busy getting my ducks in a row for a hysterectomy in a few weeks. And I’ve had tohave my ulnar nerve test again and then see two more doctors about it next week. So it’s been nice to just focus on things that are so easily fixable.

    I’ll be taking a medication holiday from my sleep meds after my surgery so it’ll be nice to be able to just give in to the excessive sleepiness again. I’m sure the excessive amounts of stimulents I have to take isn’t great for worries.

    #63328
    chas66
    Participant

    I find when I’m busy or involved, I don’t think about it. I find that when I’m at leisure, the chances of thinking about it can happen.

    So, I try to stay busy. That’s the only thing I’ve found (for me) that helps.

    #63329
    Yvonne.D
    Participant

    Having only been diagnosed 2 months ago I know how you feel. Every ache, itch, stiffness, new spot/freckle, you think is the dreaded M word that may be back. I read from a lot of sites that it will get better with time. I can’t wait for that time to come! I too have more suspicious ones that I am having biopsied soon. The mind game is brutal. The scars are nothing compared that. Everyone has great advise and I too have lots to learn and love to hear peoples thoughts on how to manage the stress or go a day without thinking about it. Here’s to hoping we will look back at this post in the years to come thinking how silly we were to spend this much time worrying about a recurrence.

    #63330
    Lesliehawk1
    Participant

    Hi, I am new here also. I was diagnosed Jan 25, 2014, with an situ MM( Malignant Melanoma). I had a punch biopsy in which my dermatologist thought that it probably was not MM and we had discussed that she would probably email me the results since they were the probably negative. I got a telephone call a few days later and had a WLE at the end of that week which was 2 weeks from the time that I had shown the area to my PCP (primary care physician). My visual area was large 2CM by 2CM but I honestly thought that it was probably an age spot or freckles growing together. I am 55. I guess that I am too young for real age spots. The area did not appear super dark to me so I was a little shocked too. However, now I have a 5.5 inch diagonal incision on my right forearm so I am constantly reminded that something really happened here. I am thankful that my path report was not any worse than the original bunch biopsy. I am still having a hard time wrapping myself around this, but the incision is a constant reminder every time I get dressed and put bracelets on. I actually stopped wearing bracelets for now which was a signature clothing trademark for me . My first 3 month check is in April and I am already making a list of anything that I want the doctor to check out from a slightly darkened area on my face to a rough area on my inner arm. I am curious to hear how others approach their frequent checks from the doctor without getting all paranoid yet being realistic at the same time.

    #63331
    toastwave
    Participant

    Hi,

    It is hard! Super, super hard to forget day-to-day. I had my diagnosis three years ago and my level of worry correlates with how busy I am.

    1. Super busy – the best of states because I actually forget for long periods of time- 3 weeks or so before my next monthly, self-check

    2. Mildly busy – think about it maybe once a week

    3. Not busy/anxiety-causing levels of busy or stress – I obsess over it in a borderline unhealthy way (checking moles frequently and looking at the same mole over and over again if I think I’ve spotted something weird)

    I have to really work to change the behavior, which in turn changes the mindset, if that makes any sense. When I am feeling like #3 above, I make goals for how many times I will look at something in a day and, if I am up for a check-up, I make the appointment, if I have not done so already. I get checked every 3 months so unless something really gnarly pops up, I have gotten myself to the point where I can wait for the check-up date. Overall, I am leaps and bounds from where I was immediately after being diagnosed. I just have to keep reminding myself of that, reminding myself of the good aspects of my diagnosis, and reminding myself that every day it will get better. Also, I am in a much better place than I was before- I know I am at risk and I know what to look for so, technically, I should be better able to catch anything problematic early. These are just the mantras that get me through the rough spots. And, I come here because seeing all of the people that are alive and living life despite their diagnosis helps me. It gets easier and I really look forward to being 25 years out. Good luck!

    #63332
    cohanja
    Participant

    Scarlett, I cannot remember did you get confirmation on melanoma vs severely dysplastic for your lesion? It was very thin right?

    #63333
    Worrywart
    Participant

    Hi Leslie –

    I’m sorry to read of your diagnosis. In time, you get to know your skin and your skin checks go down to 1 x a year. I am almost 6 yrs out from my melanoma in situ, and I very rarely think of it. I have to set reminders on my calendar to do skin checks. After all these years of analyzing my skin, I know what’s new and what’s old. I recommend you go to the derm frequently now, whenever you feel concerned. For me, it helped to see two different derms – to have two sets of eyes looking at me. I also had quite a few moles biopsied at first. It helped because now I know what normal is for me. I took pics of my moles before I had them biopsied. I also had my husband take full body pics of me a few times – and on occasion I go back and compare what my skin is like now to then…to look for changes. A second opinion on pathology is another thing that can add to your security…always a good idea with any cancer dx.

    #63334
    toastwave
    Participant

    cohanja wrote:

    Scarlett, I cannot remember did you get confirmation on melanoma vs severely dysplastic for your lesion? It was very thin right?

    Four sets of eyea and it’s an even split so the call has been to proceed as though it’s a mel…3 month checks forever bc I’ve had another severe and 5 moderatea since

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