MelissaC's Journey:

Survivor: Skin Cancer - Melanoma

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: about 6 years ago, Female, Age: 46, Stage IB, BRAF mutation positive: Don't Know, c-kit positive: Don't Know

  1. 1
    • MelissaC
    • Experience with Skin Cancer - Melanoma
    over 4 years ago
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    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    I was diagnosed with melanoma in April 2011 after I noticed a mole on my leg that I had for as long as I can remember, changed. I was putting on lotion to tan in a tanning bed at the time. I waited for a few months to get it checked out. I went to the dermatologist on recommendation from my family doctor and they removed it immediately. A few days later I received a call to come in for results. I knew it was bad. I didn't know about melanoma, until right before I had it removed. I had quit tanning, and I looked melanoma up online, and I knew when I saw the first photo come up. I thought I was prepared as the dermatologist told my fiance and I that I had melanoma and basal cell carcinoma as well. Driving away from the appointment, the reality of it all hit me. I was set up to see a surgical oncologist and would have to have surgery. It was my Oh No moment. I wished I would have never tanned.

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  2. 2
    • MelissaC
    • Experience with Skin Cancer - Melanoma
    over 4 years ago
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    Wide excision surgery

    Procedure or Surgery

    I had no idea what to expect with my surgery. My dermatologist told me that they would remove 2 cm X2 cm and I was shocked after I took the bandages off 2 days later. I had a 6 inch incision with 22 stitches and it was like a shark bite. they went deep down to the bone on the back of my thigh. I was not prepared for that at all. Recovery took a long time. I was off work for 2 weeks and had a hard time moving around. I ended up having an infection in my incision and going back to work was very difficult. One of the hardest parts of recovery, was that I felt like no one cared about my surgery and melanoma diagnosis. they seemed to think that it was okay now, since it was removed. I was given the "all clear" right before I went back to work. My lymph nodes were clear and the borders from the wide excision biopsy were clear. Melanoma has impacted my daily life because I had to change my whole life. I was an avid outdoor tanner and only tanned indoors for less than a year when I was diagnosed. I was 39 when I was diagnosed. I started blogging about my experiences and created a facebook page as well. I also decided to start my photography business, that I always wanted. I viewed things so differently. I was scared of being outdoors as first. Summer was not the same that year. I learned to live with my diagnosis, and to protect myself, so I can still enjoy being outdoors and feel safe. I have done TV interviews,and I spoke at a Relay for Life cancer event about my experience. I love to educate about melanoma, because I didn't know about it, and I want others to know that tanning is not safe, ever. I was never a public speaker, but I am passionate about educating about melanoma!

    Went as Expected: Disagree
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  3. 3
    • MelissaC
    • Experience with Skin Cancer - Melanoma
    over 4 years ago
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    Anniversary

    Celebration

    I celebrated my first Cancerversary on April 27, 2012. It was an amazing feeling to know I had been melanoma free for one year. I know that melanoma can come back at anytime, and that if it does, it could be in my organs. I know there is no cure for melanoma.

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  4. 4
    • MelissaC
    • Experience with Skin Cancer - Melanoma
    over 4 years ago
    MelissaC's Avatar

    Fight Back

    Decision Point

    I was feeling pretty depressed after my surgery. Recovery was harder than I thought, and I am a mother of 2 children, then 16 and 20. They were helpful, but I felt like I was not able to be there for them like I always had been. I had to wait for almost 2 weeks for my diagnosis of all clear, and I was starting to fear the worst. People don't get that melanoma is not just skin cancer. It is very hard at times, to deal with that. People need to be educated. I decided to fight back. I created a blog about my journey, http://melissa-melanomasucks.blogspot.com/ and I also made a lot of friends on facebook that are fighting melanoma or are family members of a melanoma warrior. I created a page on facebook called, My Journey with Melanoma (https://www.facebook.com/myjourneywithmelanoma ). I have reached out to media, and have done several interviews about my story. I decided that I needed to get the word out, and that I had been given this opportunity to educate through my experience. I would not be able to just not do anything. I have lost friends over tanning and their ignorance to it, but they really weren't friends in the first place. Melanoma is very misunderstood. I am trying to change that.

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