Melanoma, Stage 0 – I don't understand…
April 11, 2017 at 1:10 pm #12746AnonymousInactive
I’m grateful to have found this forum. I joined after reading some of your questions and comments, as I was struck by how compassionate you all are with each other.
Since my diagnosis, I have read all kinds of things online but I confess I’m more confused than I was before… I’m hoping someone may be able to help me understand a little more about life with a melanoma diagnosis.
I went to have an unsightly ‘blob’ removed from my forehead, but because of the way it was healing, he opted to biopsy it. It came back as ‘precancerous’ or, as he put it, melanoma Stage 0. I have a consultation with a plastic surgeon in a couple of weeks and then, they’ll remove a chunk of my forehead.
I’m not bothered by the scars. I’d rather have them than cancer!
But I am confused about what this means for my health, both now and in the future. I am taking care to wear a really good quality broad spectrum sunscreen, a UVF sun hat and I will cover up when outdoors. I am worried that this Stage 0 melanoma could turn into something more serious before/during the removal. And what happens afterwards? How will I know for sure that they removed all the problematic cells?
I have read that anyone who has had a melanoma diagnosis should stay out of the sun always and remain covered in UVF clothing whenever outside. I don’t mean to sound silly, but is this correct? I’m terrified of the sun now.
Sorry for the rambling. I’m a bit panicked.
Thank you in advance,
April 11, 2017 at 1:34 pm #12748Annette CyrParticipant
I am so glad you reached out. A diagnosis can be so confusing and there is a lot of information out there. You may or may not want to read our booklet ‘Melanoma – What you need to know’ – I always think it is better to be informed and know what to look for than hide from information, but everyone is different.
You melanoma sounds like it was caught as early as can be – ‘in-situ’ or stage 0. You melanoma has been confined to the epidermis, or very top layer of the skin and has not penetrated any deeper. The surgeon may go in again, as a precaution and take some skin from around the site, just to ensure that they have clear margins or potentially removed any cells that may have branched out. The 5 year survival rates for patients with stage IA are around 97% and your stage is even higher than that, so you can be more than reasonably assured that they have got it all, which is great news. And of course, you really are lucky that you went in and had it removed. Good for you for being so diligent. It does mean you need to be cautious, as you indicate, with sun exposure. Make sure you are covering as much as possible, protecting your eyes and wearing sunscreen and reapplying on all exposed areas – ears, neck, nose, hands etc and avoid direct sun where possible between 11 and 3 – check the UV index – if over 3, protection is required.Over 8, seek cover and avoid it.
While you have had one melanoma, it doesn’t mean you will develop another. But, your risk is increased by about 13%. SO you have a predisposition to skin cancer. It also may apply to direct family members now too – brothers or sisters should be aware and check their skin and use protective measures. You need to enjoy life and be reasonable about your time outdoors – enjoy and embrace it – there are so many benefits both mentally and physically to being active and outdoors, you likely would do yourself more harm than good by avoiding being out. I get it – it is a big scare and wake up call now, but moderation is key – being smart about being outside, like wearing a seatbelt – just should be part of how you live.
Might be good to take some vitamin D as well – good for many health reasons, but always consult with your doctor. It is recommended that 1000iu per day is good for anyone in North America. Hope this helps you!
April 11, 2017 at 1:41 pm #12749AnonymousInactive
I was diagnosed with Stage IIIA Superficial Spreading Melanoma seven years ago. First I would say don’t panic even though I am sure I am not alone in saying I did. Reaching out here is a great start and I hope will ease your mind. I would suggest if you don’t have it already to get a copy of your pathology report. The pathology report will give you a better basis for research and accurate discussion of your diagnosis.
I know this is a scary time, and this might sound impossible but your life will return to your normal. Going forward you can expect regular visits with a Dermatologist. I would also suggest you make sure that the Dermatologist specializes in skin cancer as quite a few deal mainly in cosmetics. Sun exposure should be limited, the old slip, slap, slop is your new mantra but you don’t have to live like a vampire. Your Dermatologist will guide you as will the different quality websites like this one, The Cancer Society, American and Canadian Dermatology Associations, AIM at Melanoma etc…
You caught it early, that is a blessing! You are now more aware and can protect yourself.
April 11, 2017 at 1:44 pm #12750AnonymousInactive
Thank you so very much for your insights – I feel very comforted. I am grateful that we caught it so early and though I’ve never been a sun worshipper, I will be even more diligent now. And thank you for the tip – I will mention it to my sister.
Thanks again for being here,
April 11, 2017 at 1:49 pm #12751AnonymousInactive
Thank you for sharing your story with me too. I have been panicking, mostly because I don’t want my husband and kids to lose me. It’s been a tough year and we’re all trying to stay positive – this melanoma diagnosis is another in a series of big life challenges, but we’ll get through it. I appreciate your advice – I do enjoy getting outside for a bike ride and with the kids at the splash pad, but I was starting to think I’d have to forego these activities altogether. Or worse, have the kids avoid them too (because now I’m highly-focused on good sun protection for all)!
I hope you are well. Thank you again,
April 11, 2017 at 3:52 pm #12753AnonymousInactive
Marine, I hear you! There are a lot of great members on here, and hearing cancer is not a pleasant word.
I am assuming you had your final pathology report?
April 11, 2017 at 3:56 pm #12754AnonymousInactive
I haven’t yet – it hasn’t been removed yet. It was an unsightly ‘blob’ that was zapped with liquid nitrogen, as the doctor thought it was just a regular growth (natural part of aging). On looking at how it was healing one week later, he said it looked precancerous and biopsied it.
I asked him if all this ‘action’ on the spot could cause any kind of ‘activation’ of the cancer cells and he said that extensive research says ‘no’.
But it’s a few weeks till I have it all removed… I am floating in between manic panic and feeling like everything’s okay. I guess this is all part of the journey?
April 11, 2017 at 10:08 pm #12762AnonymousInactive
I cannot comment on your description because I don’t know what the blob could be.
What I can comment on is the diagnosis of in situ and having to wait for the procedure. I was in the exact same situation as you for roughly 2 months. You know it is on you, yet you have to wait patiently for it to be removed.
My advice is try to get your mind off it, yes I know easier said than done. I read a book, started exercises, and tried to go out and do things (like a vacation I took helped). Also feel free to come on and vent- I will listen because I just finished (fingers crossed) having to deal with this emotional ordeal too.
April 11, 2017 at 10:46 pm #12763AnonymousInactive
I can say one thing in general that we all have to remember. Cancer is not a synonym for death. What I have found as I am sure so many of us here and you too will find Marine is that people you never suspected are not just surviving a cancer diagnosis but living a very full and satisfying life. Many times with a new and even brighter commitment to living life. I have seen a common thread in so many people who are on this journey, they view cancer as just their disease. A disease that is worse than many but better than some. It’s not who they are, they refuse to let it define them. Be informed, be vigilant and as my Oncologist so eloquently says ” don’t be a ding dong” ha ha take care of yourself, ask questions and demand answers that you understand. It’s your disease and your body. Although you might not feel it now you are in control. Find the ways that make you feel you’re in control. I know I am not alone in saying I had a few ah ha moments that gave me peace and strength. Hopefully this forum will help you find yours
April 17, 2017 at 10:52 am #12778AnonymousInactive
Hi bluejay – Thank you for your encouragement. I have small kids at home so am fortunately busy all the time and unable to spend too much time dwelling on the ‘what ifs’ 🙂 I hope you are through the worst of your ordeal now.
April 17, 2017 at 10:58 am #12779AnonymousInactive
Hi bethlharte – Thank you. I needed to hear this: ‘Cancer is not a synonym for death.’ I have reminded myself of this a few times over, since your message. I really appreciate your thoughts. Now that I’ve had a little more time to process my diagnosis, I’m feeling much more optimistic. I’ve also had a lot of people asking about my melanoma and how I found out, etc., so I’ve been able to share important info with them. Hope you continue to be well. Thank you again.
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