So I can honestly say THIS is something I would’ve never wanted to blog about. Also, this is something I am dealing with right now and writing out my journey and feelings…well there is some sort of healing that comes along with that I feel. I promise to blog about more FUN things after I speak my truth right now.
I want to start from the beginning…I am half Irish, half German, pretty fair skinned, blue eyes…basically a walking target for sunburn. The sun has never been my friend, ever. But I have ALWAYS wanted a nice golden tan. Always. Even as a kid I remember laying out (didn’t we all?) with baby oil and just would FRY my poor pale skin. Fast forward a few decades and the past two summers I have been at the pool or the beach, outdoors A LOT with my kids and friends. I do use sunscreen because I hate being sunburnt but I would still, inevitably get burnt. Mainly because I didn’t reapply as I should have.
This past summer of 2019, I noticed a small freckle on my face. It’s weird because I already have a mole on that side of my face, have had it since I could remember. But never this little freckle. Didn’t think anything of it. Until it grew…and grew…and then the freckle had a growth and a dark brown color. I still didn’t really listen to family and friends who told me to get it checked out (that’s mainly because I HATE doctors with a passion, no offense if you’re a doc, but I hate going). Also because I was a little scared to see what they had to say.
So for the FIRST time ever, on December 5th, 2020 I went to a dermatologist. Yup, FIRST TIME EVER. I never really had any issues before that I felt I needed to go. She looked at the mole/growth and said she didn’t think it looked like melanoma at all…but she wanted to cut it out of my face to get it sent to pathology just in case. Whew. I was RELIEVED. The next day, December 6th I went back into her office, had it removed…3 internal stitches and 8 external stitches later. A little bitty scar on my face, no biggie.
On December 17th, 2020 I got a phone call from the dermatologist that the pathology report came back POSITIVE for melanoma. I had stage 1a melanoma skin cancer. I’ll never forget that day, I couldn’t get out of the car I cried so hard. I didn’t understand it at all. I was FREAKING OUT. When I broke the news to some people they kind of blew it off saying “oh they’ll just cut it out and you’ll be fine” and things like “oh that’s just skin cancer, you’ll be ok”. I guess sometimes people just don’t know what to say.
Melanoma is THE deadliest skin cancer out there. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re in, it can spread to lymph nodes, your brain, lungs, it can kill you. As soon as I found out what I was diagnosed with I did the research, joined a support group on facebook (it’s really supportive and amazing and I love my melanoma WARRIORS!). I made the appointment to see an oncologist. He specialized in melanoma. I made an appointment with a plastic surgeon because, even though I had NO IDEA how big or little this “cut” would be, it is on my face and I still want to look good (call me what you want, people look at my face daily for my job). I got two chest x-rays and blood labs done – all clear on those thank GOD! Nothing had spread.
I was (some days still am) in a FOG. I got some massive support from my close friends, my husband, kids and some family. Which was and is amazing. I booked my surgery for my WLE (wide local excision) on my jaw. Both the oncologist and plastic surgeon were there the same surgery which was nice. My WLE surgery was on Feb 4th, 2020. I went in with my husband (support and driver, ha ha). I had NO IDEA I was going to be put fully under general anesthesia. Wow. I had never been under like that, it’s really strange remembering being moved to the surgeon table and then waking up in another room with stitches. SO weird.
The surgery went smoothly. The first two days were terribly painful. Also emotional. Very emotional. And I was so groggy coming out of the anesthesia, it was a mess. I went to grab coffee with a friend two days after my surgery and I don’t really remember most of the convo, I was that out of it (kind of scary since I was driving). But all in all, I was ok. I was NOT expecting this big of a WLE at all. I got between 22-30 stitches and dermabond.
Thankfully on Feb 7th, 2020 the oncologist called to let me know that my margins were CLEAR and there was NED (no evidence of disease) meaning, in that spot I was cleared of cancer! PRAISE GOD. I am so thankful. I know now that I have to be vigilant about protecting my skin…also I have to see my doc every 3 months for skin and lymph node checks until I hit my 2 year mark. Is there a chance melanoma will come back? Absolutely. And I have fear in my heart about it every…single…day. But I give that fear to God because we cannot live our lives in FEAR. Sure, it’s scary. But it’s also scary getting into a vehicle every day. There are risks in life and we just have to LIVE.
That’s my story…and here are some (somewhat, not too bad graphic photos of my journey). One day I’ll get professional photos of my scar, by then it’ll probably be healed up quite a bit. I am proud of my scar because it means I am a FIGHTER. And a BADASS. I kicked cancer’s BUTT. I’m proud of myself through all of it and feel so incredibly LOVED.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” | Psalm 139:4