Melanoma & Me
Sheila, Meet Your Uninvited And Very Unwelcome Guest, Melanoma!
At least that's what my morbid sense of humor said to myself after the words, "it turned out to be Melanoma," came out of my amazing plastic surgeon's mouth. I have WHAT? Really? As quickly as I could excuse myself, I walked down the hall to the Ladies' room, where I snapped this photo and tried to maintain my composure so that I could go back in and have the stitches removed.
How exactly, I wondered, does one drive oneself home after hearing the words, "You have skin cancer?" Denial certainly didn't work. I couldn't backspace over the last 30 minutes of my life and pretend it hadn't happened. I knew I would have a lot of coping to do, not to mention a whole lot of medical ordeals I was not looking forward to. So, I decided to hang onto the two positive things my plastic surgeon said. First of all, the cancer was Stage 1, they had caught it as early as early gets, and that was a very good thing.
The second positive thing was that he promised to be there during my required upcoming surgery to reconstruct my face and get me "back to good."
Today, eight weeks later, on May 22, 2013, he kept his promise. "Back to good" will take a lot of healing, as I have a five-inch incision on my face from lower eye to chin. But this doc does truly amazing work, as I have seen in the past when he removed a small basal cell carcinoma under my eye a year ago, and when he first removed the offending birthmark eight weeks ago which turned out to be the Melanoma. So I do have hope for my appearance returning to near-normal.
The cancer surgeon who resected the large area of my face today was also very happy and very confident that he got it all. We will know for sure in a few days when the final pathology report comes in. That's when I will find out if I am required to have further treatment, such as chemo or radiation. I'm really hoping this all ends right here today.
You might wonder why I am sharing this very personal information, not to mention some extremely unflattering photos of myself! In a word... my beautiful daughter, and all the daughters in the world out there who are exposing themselves to danger by tanning, natural or synthetic. When I walked around the hallway corner at home to greet my daughter the next time she came over, I told her, "I want you to see what years of sun damage can do to you." I'll never forget the look on her face when she first saw me, and I hope the message struck a chord. And she had only seen me like this photo, after the first surgery! She hasn't seen me after the one today yet. Now that IS scary.
I'll be completely open about the details of my Melanoma treatment. I'll show unretouched pictures. I'll give the gory details. Why? Because if it makes just one woman or young girl cancel her tanning appointment, or put on that sunscreen, it will be worth it. I never tanned in a salon but i had many severe sunburns both as a child and an adult. And now I am paying the price.
As I get more results and carry on this battle, I will share all of that here.
Please share this with everyone you know, far and wide. Preventing, or recognizing Melanoma could save their life!
Update May 30th!
I just got home from getting my stitches taken out, which feels fabulous! Even more fabulous, I got the pathology report from last week's surgery... I am CANCER FREE!!!!!
Thanks to God, and thanks to my amazing plastic surgeon, Dr. Ronald Hollins, who most likely saved my life by noticing my evil birthmark! I'm very confident that with his mad skills, my scar will become almost invisible someday. I can't quit smiling!!!
5-30-13, Stitches Out!!
Me, At Home Shortly After My 3 Hour Melanoma Resection & Reconstruction Surgery
Me Just Before The Surgery
Look Ma, No Spot! After The Melanoma Birthmark First Surgery Healed
UV Protection Sunglasses On Amazon - My Hand Picks!
Looking tan is just not worth all of this!
Did You Know....
One in five adults will be diagnosed with a type of skin cancer in their lifetime?
A Year Ago... - Basal Cell Carcinoma Removal Surgery
This one scared me badly enough a year ago! I had a Basal Cell Carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, under my right eye.
This year I had a new little spot in the area where it had been removed, and I rushed out to see the plastic surgeon to make sure it was not the cancer again. Thank God I did! He looked at it and said it was just a skin tag and we'd take it off, but he didn't like the looks of the birthmark on my cheek! He wanted to take it off too. That birthmark was the Melanoma. I'd had it all my life and it changed suddenly a few months back, turning darker and changing shape a bit. I put off getting it checked out because I was undergoing a big knee replacement surgery and it was low on my priority list. I wish now it'd been higher.
Here's a photo of me the night of the Basal Cell Carcinoma removal. It was no picnic, either. The surgery took over an hour and I was awake for the whole thing.
The Basal Cell Stitches Slowly Healed... It Took Weeks.
What Do YOU Say? - This Is A Controversial Topic... What Do You Think?
Should Tanning Beds Be Banned, At Least For Minors?
YES! Kids think they are invincible and they are doing themselves a lot of harm.
Me, In 2012 Before All This Happened... See That Birthmark On My Cheek
Helpful Melanoma Resource Links
- The Danger of Tanning Beds | Women's Health Magazine
Tanning beds might as well be coffins. Oncologists now believe they are to blame for the alarming spike among young women in lethal melanoma cases-the scariest form of skin cancer.
- Skin Cancer Information
Learn about the three most common types of skin cancer - Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma.
- Free Skin Cancer Screening | Melanoma Monday
Did You Know? Since 1985, the American Academy of Dermatology Skin Cancer Screening Program has: Enabled dermatologists to conduct more than 2 million free
- Cancer Research Institute
Information for melanoma (skin cancer) patients interested in learning about cancer immunotherapy and clinical trials.
- National Cancer Institute
Information about melanoma treatment, prevention, causes, screening, clinical trials, research, and other topics from the National Cancer Institute.
- WebMD Melanoma Center: Signs, Treatments, Symptoms, Types, Causes, and Tests
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. Find skin cancer information and treatment options and how you can prevent the disease.
- Skin Cancer Awareness Month Reminders from The Skin Cancer Foundation - SkinCancer.org
- Can Aspirin Help Protect Older Women Against Melanoma? - SkinCancer.org
One Of My Prior Sunburns in 2002. I Hated Sunscreen, Hats, And Glasses!
Melanoma On YouTube
About Your Author...
Welcome! I'm SheilaSchnauzies. I'm a writer, crochet designer, Miniature Schnauzer rescuer, (hence the Schnauzies name!) jewelry designer, gardener, wife, mother and friend living in Omaha, Nebraska. I've crocheted since I was about 11, and I've been designing for over 20 years now. My for-sale patterns and Squidoo lenses support the needs of my Miniature Schnauzer rescue dogs. We operate as Sheila's Schnauzies, a nonprofit organization and currently have three furkids here. We all appreciate your support!