I am a 38 year old wife, mother of a nine year old girl and five year old boy. I was diagnosed with Melanoma in April of 2011. I did not have a mole or a freckle. I had cut the back of my left leg shaving above my ankle and noticed the scab was not going away. In fact it turned into a round dark pink/reddish spot like a button. I showed the doctor about 8-10 weeks later and he immediately said it was an issue with the scar tissue & nothing to worry about unless I wanted it removed for cosmetic reasons. I felt that I was not worried about how it looked and left it alone.
It grew into a perfectly round reddish bump that became itchy over the next few months so when I went back to the doctor for anxiety issues, I also showed him the bump. He immediately said it was not what he thought, but it may be Keratocanthoma. He claimed it was a fairly harmless form of skin cancer. I would have it removed a few days later in his office. I read online about this form of skin cancer and thought he was wrong. It wasn’t the same description, but I was not worried. He is a great doctor and he would remove it for me, no problem. I went back with both kids in tow and had it removed right there in front of them. It took at least five stitches and looked really ugly, but I still was not worried! I already take medicine for my anxiety, plus I am very busy with my kids, so I didn’t think much of it. I had to go back a week later to see the nurse & have the stitches removed.
When I got to my appointment I was surprised to see the doctor come in. He was not his usual amusing self. He told me then, with my four year old in the room bouncing around, that the bump he removed was in fact Melanoma. I was scared, but not terrified, until he said he had lost a young patient years ago to Melanoma, but that now there are more treatments available.
I didn’t know what to think! He told me I would need the centinal lymph node removed and biopsied and a much larger patch of the area removed and grafted to know if it spread. I cried and took my son home but the real fear didn’t set in until I read online that Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and if it spread I had little hope!
The next month was the worst of my life, I just wanted to be with my husband and my kids. My husband kept saying he was sure I would be fine. He was convinced the doctor had gotten it all. My mother, who was preparing for a total knee replacement just weeks away, was at my side every day. Friends, neighbors, and family who I have not seen in years gave me their support.
I met with the general surgeon first, who referred me to a plastic surgeon. Both would be working on me! The surgeon was honest and gave full disclosure on the what if’s. I even had to ask, if it did spread, how long would I live? I left there beside myself with fear. I met with the plastic surgeon a week later and he showed me pictures of what my surgery would be like, what my leg would look like, and gave me lots of encouragement! I felt such relief after meeting with him.
Weeks later I had to have a chest Xray and a dye injection with a body scan to locate the centinal lymph node which was in my groin area. They marked the areas where the lymph nodes would be removed and finally on June 6th, 2011, three days before my son turned five, I went into the hospital for five days. I was immobilized for four days while the area on my leg healed. I had a two inch by three inch hole cut out of my left leg and a rectangular area on my left thigh removed to be used as a skin graft. The surgeon said he was able to get three lymph nodes but I would have to wait a few days for the results.
My family and friends supported me through it all and I actually enjoyed my stay in the hospital! The nurses were so concerned for me. They had not seen such a procedure done on anyone like me before. On the third night the surgeon made a special trip to my room to tell me the Melanoma had NOT spread! I was elated! The joy was unreal. The nurses found out and were coming in from across the ward congratulating me! It took a few weeks before I could fully walk again, but I had a walker and a nurse came to the house everyday for that period of time. I learned how to walk again and just wanted to go back to my normal busy life.
Everyday I live with the fear of the Melanoma returning but everyday I thank God for my life. I want to see my kids grow up! I want to grow old with my husband! There are too many things to enjoy in life. I can not let this cancer take me down! For a long time I was covering up this huge scar I have on my leg. It is a large chunk taken away from the flesh but that same plastic surgeon told me to suck it up! Live with it and walk proudly with it, what’s the alternative?! Though it’s ugly, I do wear it like a badge. If anyone asks what it’s from I’ll gladly tell them I fight like a girl!
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.