Pacific Ocean. Santa Monica, California. Today is February 4th and I was suppose to be there two days ago. Shit happens....MELANOMA
People who live in cold weather cities like to get away during the winter. That would be me. I was planning on getting away for a couple of weeks. Warm up...get a little sun...see the Ocean. I love that stuff. I did the same thing last winter which brings us to the Melanoma portion of our story.
In mid-February of 2015, I found this gnarly mole on my upper back. It was stage one Melanoma. After a two hour surgical procedure, it was all gone and everything was fine. You can go back to living normal life again. Easier said than done.
Here's a strange thing about Melanoma and I've heard the same thing from other survivors with different types of Cancer...it messes with your head as much as your body. Even though you know everything is good, you can't stop wondering when it's coming back. Not if, but when. I told this crap fucks with your head..oy!
I'm pretty good about taking care of myself. I do all the right things. My dermatologist knows me by sight. And yet you can't turn off your brain.
I know the difference between a dangerous mole and one I shouldn't worry about. But you can't stop from wondering and you can never really be sure.
A couple of weeks ago I found a couple of marks on my left arm and two more on my legs. I kept going back and forth. Melanoma...nothing...nothing...Melanoma. It's stressful. I knew I had an appointment with my dermie for late March so I figured it could wait til then. Go to California. Have a good time. It's only two months. YEAH, RIGHT!
After a week of thinking the worst, I decided to check with my primary doctor. She said not to worry about it so much but she wasn't the one with the moles. I called the dermatologist. I told the receptionist the story and they moved up the appointment for the end of this month. Two days after I came back from San Diego. More stress. I know I'm not going to be able to relax and have a good time. I need to get this done.
I cancelled my flight to L.A.
Tuesday, I went to the dermatologist's office. I told the receptionist the story and said I was willing to sit there all day, if needed. It wasn't needed. There were two cancellations and I even had my choice of times for today. I was there at 10:30 and by 11:30, everything was fine. All the stress, all the worrying, all the trip cancellations were for nothing...except for the peace of mind. The peace of mind is priceless.
Is there a point to this epic? Absolutely! It's what the title says...better safe than sorry. With Melanoma, if you catch it early like I did, it's very curable. We cut it out, no chemo, no radiation...life continues. If you don't catch it early, your life expectancy is FIVE YEARS!
So here's some advice to avoid getting Melanoma:
1. Wear sunscreen
2. Wear a hat
3. Stay out of tanning beds
4. Do a monthly body check
5. Learn the difference in the types of moles (Google works)
6. See your dermatologist regularly
Okay, I'm de-stressed now. I think I'll go check out the Ocean....well I will next Tuesday.
Today's blog is dedicated to my friend Donna. She died from Melanoma last October. I miss her a lot and this is one of her stories.
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