Melanoma in my heart? &*($@#%!!!!!!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in a chair this week or lay in a bed…hospital or my own…and been incredibly grateful to feel my heart beat in my chest. Nor can I even count the number of times I’ve put my hand over my heart and just left it there to feel it’s life-giving beat. Several weeks ago a routine scan showed a metastatic cardiac mass. Melanoma in my heart? WTF?

I had open heart surgery 8 days ago to remove that metastatic cardiac mass (actually what turned out to be several small masses) from the right atrium of my heart. My heart. That is some scary shit. And since you know I write about melanoma (you know, that “skin cancer” that so many people think can just be cut out and you go on with your life), it would only make sense that these masses were melanoma. And that is correct. They were. Melanoma. God, how I hate that word. I hate this cancer with a passion that is unrivaled by anything I’ve ever felt or known in my life.

I wasn’t taught to hate. But this is involuntary.  The melanoma community refers to it as the “Black Beast” because the tumors, for the most part anyway, are black. Well, I hate the black beast with all I have.  I hate it for who it takes. It doesn’t discriminate, by the way.  It does not care about the color of your skin. It does not care about your age. It does not care about gender. It just doesn’t care. If you don’t take care of your biggest organ, your skin, it will try to get you. Oh, and it doesn’t care if you have a family who is sitting in some awful hospital waiting room during your 9th and scariest surgery to date waiting to find out if you’re going to wake up from this one.

Thankfully, I made it through that 9th and very scary surgery to fight another day, though I have a bunch of healing to do. But you can bet I’ll keep fighting. The Black Beast has got a very ornery Irish chick on its hands. A very ornery Irish chick who has tons of love and support from family and friends, and an incredible team of physicians. And I just don’t give up easily.

People…please wear sunscreen. Every single day. Even if it looks like London outside. Even if it’s January and you’re going skiing. In fact, especially if it’s January and you’re going skiing. You get the rays directly from the sun and a double dose of reflection off the snow. Every single day. Come hell or high water. That’s your best chance to keep the Black Beast out of YOUR life. And that would make me really happy.

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