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New here, not sure where to find support

Avid
Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm new here, sorry if I'm posting in the wrong place. I looked for a forum sticky but didn't see one. I'm trying to find someone to talk to because I'm scared and feeling really alone right now.

I found it in May of last year. It was on my shoulder blade, a little bump, thought it was a pimple so I popped it. Whatever it was wasn't a pimple, and it never quite healed. I tried to ignore it, and thought it was an odd mole.

A month ago I noticed that my back, which only had 3 beauty marks throughout my entire life is now covered with about 40 of them, and more lumps that look like the first, only smaller are starting to grow. And my shoulders are starting to have a constant burning feeling.

I keep telling myself it isn't cancer. I want to go to a doctor but I don't know how. Ever since I got laid off two years ago I decided to go back to college to get a degree for a real job, and next year will be my senior year. I'm trying hard to do good in life, I'm even getting a 3.7 gpa, I didn't want to get some skin condition. I've tried to get a job so I can get some kind of insurance, something so I can go to the doctor, but I don't have a degree yet and no where is hiring.

I called the help number and they directed me to a college that does free screenings, but the number is disconnected. I'm hoping that this is just because it is the weekend. I don't know for sure if I have skin cancer, but the bumps look exactly like the pictures of melanoma I've seen. I don't know if I can tell anyone, don't want to upset the family if it isn't cancer... but right now I'm carrying this all by myself and don't know anyone I can turn to or what to do. I just really want someone to talk to.

Sorry again if I am posting in the wrong forum. If I am please tell me somewhere I can post this or talk to someone about this.

Dobermom
Posts: 40
Joined: Aug 2009

Avid,

I'm so sorry for your situation. The American Cancer Society website is the place to start of information of any cancer. If it's skin cancer, the skin cancer forum is the place to start. I'm found you may not always get an immediate answer, but you'll always get one!

I may not be able to help you much. I ended up with two suggestions. Hopefully someone with more experience than I will chime in with a solution. My reply is based on my experience 20+ years ago when I was at college. Please don't be offended! My reply is truly not meant to offend, and is not meant to imply you are slow/stupid/would not think to take advantage of all the university resource available to you. I just want to suggest one that may/may not be open to you that you may/may not have thought to check on. Especially since you don't mention if you are a full-time student, nor do you mention where you go to school.

20+ years ago, I was your typical student. I didn't read my student handbook - I did not realize until I truly needed it that as part of my college tuition, I was paying for health insurance. For 3 years, I went without going to the doctor because I didn't think I had the option available. (And of course, with typical 18-21 YO thinking, I though serious illness couldn't/wouldn't happen to me. And health insurance was for "old people" and was something only my parents would think of.) It was only after I cut my hand badly enough to need stitches that I discovered I had health insurance through my tuition. I was really angry with myself when I discovered that! There really were several times in the previous 3 years that I could have used that knowledge because I had been badly ill with colds/flu to need a visit to the doctor (as in strep throat/bronchitis).

Now, as my nieces and nephews are preparing to go to college, I'm discovering that most of their colleges offer health insurance as part of their college tuition packages.

So I would urge you to check your student handbook and check with your admissions counseler to find out if your college includes health insurance as part of your tuition. And if it does, if it includes cancer in the coverage. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it does? Or at the very least if it doesn't, if it includes a referral. I'd suggest trying to find a dermatologist. Maybe if you can find a way to pay for the initial pathology on a mole - if it comes back positive for melanoma, maybe you could convince the dermatologist/surgeon to do the follow-up surgeries pro bono or on a payment plan or something (they have to be done in order to get the clean margins).

All that being said, please, please, please have those lumps and bumps looked at. As I'm sure your research has indicated, melanoma is not something to be played with. And please don't let someone tell you they're nothing, or that you're too young for melanoma. My first melanoma was diagnosed at age 27. The doctors thought it was a "normal looking mole". I wanted it off because it itched - if the docs had had their way, I'd most likely be dead because it had already sent out 3 nodules. At 27, I was NOT a sun worshiper, nor was I one as a child/teen. If you were to do an unofficial pole on this forum, you would find people younger than 27 that were diagnosed with melanoma. You would also find people who were extremely pale.

My oncologist told me some people are just more prone to melanoma than others. Just as I was fortunate enough to go 17 years between my initial diagnosis an my first recurrence. How lucky is that? I consider it VERY lucky. I can tell you we're praying for another 17 years or more before another recurrence.

Another idea just came to mind as I was sitting here typing up this "novel" (sorry for its length, I tend to get wordy). I'm sure you've heard the term "networking" as it applies to the business world and searching for a job. Well, now is the time to apply that term to your search for a medical doctor. You know a few people in the medical profession. At the very least, you know the doctor you went to when you were growing up (even if s/he are in another state). They know people, who know people, etc. One thing I have discovered in dealing with this cancer - doctors are a closely knit group of people. They all tend to know each other (at least the good ones do), they network with each other. If you explain your situation to your doctor, and that you have no insurance/no money, etc. and what it is you are looking for, your family doctor may be able to assist you in your search for a doctor. Depending on your relationship with that doctor, they may even go so far as to make some phone calls for you.

I sincerely hope your lumps and bumps turn out to be harmless. I'll add you to my thoughts and prayers.

Dobermom (Christina)
Initial Dx : 1992
Dx Recurrant Metastatic Melanoma : 6 Aug 2009
NED since 1 Sep 2009
Undergoing low-dose interferon therapy
(26 down, 112 to go AO 10 Jan 2010)

Blair84's picture
Blair84
Posts: 45
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm sorry about your situation but you have to understand that health is very important. You have to go to doctor and get checked. Please let your family know about situation. I went to dermatologist last week and I had a punch biopsy and now I'm waiting for my results. I'm so scared, because also last week I was diagnosed with thyriod cancer, this is very hard for me right now. Please check your moles!!!
God bless you

JR1949
Posts: 230
Joined: Jun 2009

Avid,
As the others have told you, you need to get those bumps checked. Melanoma is not something to take lightly. Click on my name in the blue square and read my story, especially part about my wife's recurrent melanoma.
I hope you can find some means of getting the screening done. I wish I knew some way. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. This is a good place to get support. There are some truly wonderful people on this network.

JR1949

JR1949
Posts: 230
Joined: Jun 2009

Avid,

I've been thinking about you and talked to my wife and asked for any suggestions.
Here are some suggestions we came up with:
1. Call hospitals in your area and explain your situation and ask about financial assistance.
2. Try searching for free clinics. I know there are some where doctors and nurses volunteer
their time. It's worth a try.
3. Call or email American Cancer Society and ask for assistance. Perhaps they can network
for you.
4. Ask your family, I am sure they would rather know so they can help.

Hope this is helpful for you.

JR

JR1949
Posts: 230
Joined: Jun 2009

Hello again,
There is a website Cancer Care that offers financial help. I don't know how or what but it would be something you can look into. Website is: www.cancercare.org. Hope this helps you.

JR1949

NoSourceMan
Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2010

The National Cancer Institute lists hospitals that they designate as Comprehensive Cancer Centers. I don't know, but I would not doubt that the availability of financial aid may figure into the certification process. Check the NCI site and see if one is near you. If travel will be a problem, I hope your family situation will allow them to help you with that. The people at these centers have heard it all and should be a good source for information.

happydad
Posts: 16
Joined: Jun 2009

Dear Avid,

I think that several respondents have given you some good information about where you might get help. I work for a university. Most institutions require students to purchase health insurance if they are not covered by their parents plan. You most likely do have coverage. Also, many schools will also have a clinic that is available to students for minimal cost.

Last year about this time my wife discovered a small mark on my head, thought it was a pimple and tried to get rid of it. No luck. I didn't pay much attention to it until about three months later when it grew large very quickly. I finally went to a dermatologist and the rest is history. I have had two surgeries for removing the melanoma and have just finished my sixth month of Interferon. Only six more months to go.

Don't wait to find a doctor. Hopefully you already have. My delay resulted in being treated for stage 3 instead of stage 1.

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