Monday, March 19, 2012

Melanoma

Recently my friend told me about her friend who is battling melanoma for her life.  The more she told me, the more I wanted to go get my skin checked out.  The first time/last time I had a mole check was 3 years ago. Now, I am a moley person, so I really can't tell what's new or bigger for the most part.  However, after hearing about this incredible woman's story and her ongoing battle with melanoma, I did the once-over and decided I had a couple of moles that really needed a doctor's opinion. 

One had grown bigger with every pregnancy, and was different colors, irregular border, raised, and I was sure it was cancerous.  The other was new for about a year or two, tiny and black, and probably the only reason I noticed it is because it is on my forearm where I can see it.  I also have over 100 other light to dark brown moles and tags and growths, etc... So, after a month's wait to get in to the dermatologist, I had my total skin exam, with a few biopsies taken, two weeks ago.

The results came in........

A couple of totally normal moles, a neurofibroma (totally benign), the one I thought was cancer was just an ugly seborrheic keratosis, and last but not least, the tiny mole was a "severely atypical melanocytic nevus" where they couldn't rule out "melanoma in situ."   WHAT??  As the nurse so kindly put it over the phone, "they aren't calling it melanoma, but it is severely atypical and could have been melanoma, so it is at very least precancerous."  Holy smokes!  My life totally flashed before my eyes (as I was dropping off my toddler at preschool and driving home... not a good place for this kind of conversation.)

I completely panicked and have been freaked out ever since. 

Today, I got the re-excision done, a big elliptical over-one-inch chunk of my forearm taken off, just to be sure it is all gone.  And of course, I questioned the ears off my dermatologist, who patiently and knowingly told me that this is the reason to get skin checks, and that melanoma is totally curable if detected early.  This was actually a best-case-scenario, by catching it right at the beginning.  (Okay, calm down nerves, it's "best-case" not "worst-case".)

I am so thankful to my friend's friend, Alisa.  It is because of her that I made the appointment with a dermatologist when I did.  I don't even know if I would have thought of it for months or years had it not been for the serious story of this amazing mother who is my age, with melanoma.  By then, I can't even imagine what the outcome could have been for that teeny-tiny black perfectly round mole on my forearm.  Now, I get to go in every 6 months to be checked out, since I have a diagnosed tendency for atypical moles and melanoma.  Am I paranoid now?  YES.  I am determined to stay a step ahead for the rest of my life.

People, GO GET A SKIN SCREENING!!  Do it now.  Call a dermatologist and get in.  And please check out the current blog of this strong and inspiring woman battling for her life with melanoma.  www.joshalisa.blogspot.com - My prayers are with her.


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