Mikala

My cancer scare changed my life. I'm grateful for every new, healthy day I have.

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.

Fri, 2014-04-04

Comments

alyssatee - (4/23/2014 - 9:59pm)

I can relate to your story! Mine came back also, but this time was definitely melanoma. I almost had to stay over night after my surgery because I kept throwing up, Such great news you are cancer free and congrats on having your baby girl! 

gnamian - (6/18/2014 - 9:40am)

I had a mark on my jaw line for a year and chalked it up to a freckle.  A friend asked me what it was and I played if off.  A year later they asked me again and I did notice that the freckle has changed and there was a small darker colored spot within the brown area. I went to a dermatologist who did not hesitate and did a biopsy ,,, and it was in fact melanoma.  

As with you and many, I started reading the information on the internet and soon became scared out of my mind.  Lucky for me the Skin Cancer Center here in Cincinnati took me in immediately, literally the next day.  They did MOHS surgery and I left the office clean, although they sent off the last layer (the outer margin) to a pathologist to double check.  

I am of course anxious to learn those results.  The doctor said it was an early detection and that it spread laterally but not downward, so nothing took root.  That is the news I wanted to hear.  

In the waiting room after my first cut, a man across from me was talking to someone else, saying he had basil cell, and "at least it is not the M word ...".  I almost vomited!  I looked at him and said "I have that". 

Today I am going to change the bandage, clean things up, redress the wound, and go about my business.  And thank God for this blessing.  None of us knew anything about the effects of over exposure back when we all played on the beaches in Connecticut, in fact we all felt that once the sun-burned layer peeled, the tan was there ,,, we actually thought that was a good thing.