In March 2019, I was diagnosed with melanoma. Not just melanoma, but a particularly aggressive, nasty form known as nodular melanoma. What we (doctors included), thought was just an irritated mole turned out to be stage II melanoma!
With my first (and hopefully last) major surgery behind me, which included a skin graft, three lymph nodes removed, and a wide local excision of surrounding tissue (60+ stitches, 40 staples), I’m left with many scars physically and emotionally. But, I’m here and I’m healing. Thank God for my team of doctors, nurses, family, friends, my faith and my son – Knox.
I’m sharing this because melanoma is scary! It can come and go at anytime, at any age, any skin type, and you’re never truly guaranteed free from it or in remission. It grows and spreads quickly – particularly this nodular form.
You can prevent melanoma and other skin cancers by practicing sun safety and catching skin cancers early. Look at your body and skin all over monthly for changes, know your skin, make appointments, and trust your instincts! I was told by a doctor not to worry. There are many of you out there like me. I fought to get this checked and thankfully, I did. Some people aren’t so lucky.
Recently I received word that my follow up CT scan was ‘unremarkable’, which is a good thing in the medical world! There was no evidence of more disease. This is great news! However, as my wonderful physician told me, ‘once you’re on the treadmill, it’s difficult to get off.’
Yes, this experience keeps me up at night. I struggle with being extremely grateful to having a touch of survivor’s guilt. The physical battle pales in comparison to the emotional battle that comes in waves of strength and weakness.
Everyday I look around at my amazing family and friends who were there for me every single day. It’s so hard to go through a cancer diagnosis, but I’m sure it’s just as devastating to be the caregiver. My circle, the ones who cared for me, showed up each and every day. That’s something that was truly eye opening. We are surrounded by so much genuine love that sometimes we forget what it looks like. When we fall on hard times, ‘I love you’ turns into actions, and my people showed me without a shadow of a doubt they were in my corner.
As of today, I am healthy, recovered and ready for my next chapter. However, this experience has been the biggest wake up call of my entire life. Love the people that love you, work hard, and be self-aware. Check your skin. Be persistent if you see a change.
There’s a lot going on in all of our lives. I get that, I too am guilty of putting my to-do lists before my self-care list. Please slow down, live your life fully, celebrate your blessings and accomplishments.
Forgive, learn and move on…We are all in this crazy life together.