Southern California native, I am grew up your typical fair skinned, Blonde hair and light colored eyes kid. I first developed a growth on the left side of my foot, just below the ankle bone in my early 20's.. I had doctor's look at it and the opinions I received were that it didn't look suspicious at the time. Unless it wasn't bothering me (which it wasn't) they advised to take the "wait and see approach".
Fast forward to age 40 (2013). Moved out to the Southern California desert and in with my lovely fiance and soon-to-be wife. She had looked at the growth more than once and asked about it. It grew to the size of a pinto bean within the first couple of years I had it, then stopped never grew in the 15 + additional years I had it. It was flesh colored, never itched and never changed shape or size and never ulcerated. However, in October of 2013 my fiance noticed it has darkened just a little in the dead center, almost like a tiny black dot formed. With her advice I went to go see my Dr to have it removed. To her credit, she may have very well saved my life by catching it early enough.
6 weeks later we received the bad news it was Melanoma and I required surgery to remove the remainder of the growth. Dec 9th I had the wide excision performed along with a sentinel biopsy performed which came back positive with small traces of the disease. It was recommended I have all of the lymph nodes removed from my left groin.
I struggled with this decision mainly because I didn't like what I found in our in research, words like lymphadema, compression stocking etc. With recent medical papers debating the advantages of having radical lymph node dissection, it left me wondering if it was the right option for me. A second opinion confirmed the first as it was the "standard of care." I opted for the surgery as we can only made the best choices to what treatmeants we have available today, not tomorrow.
I had a second surgery to skin graph the original site of the Melanoma on Dec. 23rd and then went back on Feb. 19th to have the lymph node dissection done. I was in the hospital for a total of 12 days, mostly due to having to undergo physical therapy as my sartorious muscle had to be manipulated to reach the lymphatic channel. It took several days to regain strength and be able to walk again.
I am home now, up and getting around. I now I face one more challenge and a big challenge at that. I start my 12 month Interferon alpha drug therapy on May 5th. I have read all of the nasty side effects but I also know it helps delay and possiblely increase the chance of a cure for the disease. I'm all for any chance to lower the possiblity of this awful disease from reoccurring.
So that's about it. I have a long road ahead of and I suppose hearing the stories and sharing them is what lead me to this website. We can win this battle together!
I've shared my story and now I am asking the community to share their stories. I'm interested in hearing everyone's story but especially those who have their Melanoma on their foot or leg and had the radical lymph node groin dissection performed. I am also interested in those who have had or are currently undergoing interferon treatments, how have you managed the side effects and any advice you may give to get through the 12 months of treatment.
Those that did opt for the dissection, how have you managed your leg to avoid lyphadema and how long have you worn a compression stocking. I have heard stories from patients wearing it 6 months to every single day (for the rest of your life) ?
Thank you for reading, and again, this is OUR fight. And we will beat this disease.