Oct 01, 2009 - 2:12 pm
I have read so many of the postings here and almost feel a bit guilty writing since my melanoma isn’t as far spread nor as devastating as so many others.
My melanoma was staring me right in the face for quite awhile. It was on my forehead, just above my eyes, so every morning it was “Hmm I should have that checked sometime.” When it began to grow a little and seem more like a Hindu bindi dot, I asked my doctor about having this “freckle” removed. Off to the dermatologist I went; she looked at it, and said “We’ll just biopsy it to see the best way to remove it.” This was in late May of 2008.
A few days later, THE call came. “Hello, this is Dr. B. calling. That spot we biopsied isn’t a freckle, but invasive melanoma and it has to come out immediately. We have already scheduled you with a plastic surgeon that specializes in cancers of the face.” Wow. So difficult to hear the “C” word was used in the same sentence as my name.
Sure enough, I found myself a few days later having a Mohs procedure. He removed a large chunk from my forehead, just shy of needing a graft. My eyebrows are a little closer together now, my frown lines are gone, and my friends tease me now since I have now had “work done” on my face – very important when you live in Los Angeles!
I am also an RN, and though I had learned about melanoma in college, I now spent a lot of time researching the disease. Some of the websites were horrid “My mother had melanoma, and now she’s dead.” “My brother had it, it came back, and now he’s dead.” “This is a picture of my sister in the hospital the day before she died from melanoma.” I didn’t want to see any more. Depressing doesn’t come close to describing this!
There had to be a middle ground. I asked my doctor about it, and though correct, the response was “Well, we either cut it out, or you die.” Okay. I guess this is a path that isn’t going to be easy to traverse and I’m not the first person to come to grips with this. I don’t have metastases that I know of, though now I worry about every pain in my head and abdomen. I also found that some of my friends didn’t quite see the seriousness of this. “Oh, it’s just skin cancer; it’s not like it’s bad or anything. I know lots of people that just have it frozen off.” They obviously don’t know much about this kind of malignancy.
When I told some of my friends about how depressing the websites were, they said (in wanting to spare me), “…just don’t go to those sites anymore!” Stop reading about it already!
While some of the cirstances of folks here are dire, I have seen such bravery and courage. I’m looking for that middle ground. My cancer (and boy, it’s hard to write those two words) is a part of my life, but it doesn’t define me. Perhaps it’s just that time has to pass for it to find the proper place in my life – where I can read other’s stories and not personalize it so much, and do what I do well… help other people. That’s why health care has been my career for so many decades.
Thanks for listening. I’m sure I’m not alone out there. This was a big step for me to come out there online and publically say “I am surviving melanoma.”