Face to Face with Melanoma
It was there for many, many years. In fact, in my mind, it was a brown patch that was just a birthmark. After all, I had seen it face to face every time I took my shirt off at the beach or when going swimming. It was there in the mirror on my chest. I never thought it was anything to be concerned about until....
Until one day recently. After I had taken my shirt off and while shaving, I noticed a change in the brown, flat, asymmetric, patch about a half inch in length. That change was in the new color extending from the patch, as if it was spreading. It was pinkish color and over the next few days it continued to enlarge. I was alarmed to a certain degree and within a few days for my peace of mind, went to see a dermatologist. It took no more than five minutes for them to determine a suspicion and immediately took a biopsy using a syringe. The doctor indicated that it was a good thing I came in after I had noticed a color change.
When the biopsy results came in, it was my first ever face-off with early melanoma. I was shocked. This patch had been there for much of life. The doctor indicated that this melanoma was just at Stage 0 and 1, meaning it was totally curable since it was still very shallow under the skin and can be removed. The brown patch of melanoma had just been in a dormant state for all these years and was now starting to expand. Many people who die from melanoma is simply because they are not vigilant about the moles or areas regarding changes or choose to dismiss changes as non-serious. This allows the cancer to reach Stages 2, 3, and 4. In Stages 3 and 4, melanoma grows vertically, like a well, and sooner or later it will hit a blood vessel or artery allowing it to spread to other parts of the body. In Stage 2, there remains time to prevent this type of growth before it is too late. In Stages 0,1, melanoma grows horizontally in the first two layers of skin and usually does not hit a blood vessel or artery.
The removal of Stage 0,1, is done in the office using local anesthesia. The procedure takes no longer than 30-45 minutes. However, like any cancer surgery, the object is to remove all cancer cells and the patient carries the fear that not all cells were removed. Of course, the doctors are concerned about this also, which is why a follow up appointment a few months after removal is made.
My case of melanoma was a little more interesting. As I said, the brown patch had been there many years of my life and after the biopsy was taken, on the next day, this brown patch was gone! It is my guess that the fluid taken from the area removed most of the cancer cells consisting of the brown patch. What else would explain its disappearance? What was left was just an area where the biopsy was taken that became crusted over like an open sore.
The in-office surgery removed the area surrounding the sore-like skin and hopefully the remaining cancer cells. But, like I said, the fear is there: Were all the cancer cells removed?
Now, like most people having gone through this, I am paranoid of every little mole or spot on my body. I treat each one with much more suspicion. I am worried that one day, maybe years from now, it will rear its ugly head again, somewhere else.