It all started in June 2013, my best friend noticed I kept itching a mole on my back. She took a look at it and immediately told me I NEED to get that checked out ASAP. She kept saying “it could be melanoma.” I knew weeks before that it was growing rapidly and that I probably should get it looked at but I put it off. Until that day, something in her voice scared me.
On my lunch break from work I called the dermatologist. They said they happened to have one last appointment open for the very next day, and not another one available until September. I took the appointment for the next day. I went in to meet Dr. Smith and he told me the mole didn’t look right and we should probably take it off to get it sent to the lab. A few days later I was at home with my fiancé and I got a call from Dr. Smith. He said I have some unfortunate news, “you have Melanoma”. I couldn’t even believe it, I hardly knew anything about skin cancer but I knew that melanoma was “the worst of the 3 types.” And I am 2 months pregnant! As he kept explaining the next steps for this I tried to hold back my tears. I barely even heard anything he said. All I could think about was how one minute I’m fine and the next I have cancer. CANCER! That horrible word you never want to hear that someone has that horrible word you associate death with.
I then of course googled everything about melanoma. I read all the horrible stories and all of the life expectancies depending on what stage you have and how deep the actual tumor is into your skin. I called the Doctor back to get more answers now that I knew what I was actually dealing with. He said I have stage 2C. That means the melanoma is 4+ mm thick and is ulcerated. A few weeks later I met with an oncologist and a surgical oncologist. They explained the grueling procedure to me, even told me I should think about aborting my pregnancy. Melanoma was 1 of 3 cancers that can actually cross the placenta to the baby. It’s a 3% chance of happening. I decided to take my chances. I scheduled my appointment for surgery. I had to wait till I was in my 2nd trimester since I had to get general anesthesia. July 16th was surgery day. I was super nervous. They made an 8 inch long excision on my back; I had a few lymph nodes taken out in my neck and right underarm. I was supposed to be able to go home after surgery, but since I couldn’t stop throwing up I had to stay the night. I was in so much pain; I couldn’t even go pee on my own. I couldn’t get in or out of bed without someone helping me.
All I could hope for was the phone call telling me it went well. I had to wait 8 long months of pregnancy before I could get scans to find out for sure that the cancer was gone. I was told I had a “possible” positive lymph node. That would put me at a stage 3 melanoma. I ended up going to Dana Farber in Boston to get a second opinion on the lymph node. That was ruled out negative. Thank God. January 31st my precious little Myla was born. A few weeks later I got my pet scan and brain MRI, and about an hour after that I was finally able to say that I am cancer free! For the next 5 years I will have to get pet scans and ultrasounds on my lymph nodes every few months. I have a 50% chance that the Melanoma will return. Until then I will enjoy life with my family and friends, and pray that it doesn’t come back. All those years I went tanning and would lay out in the sun are coming back to haunt me. Wear sunscreen people! It can save your life! Maybe I can save somebody’s life by sharing my story and having them think twice about that tan they think they need.