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Well, I have never written a blog before, but here goes.  At my last gynecology appointment my doctor told me that I would only need to get a pap every two years because of my age.  Well, this Fall I knew that it was getting close so I called to make an appointment.  The two year mark was not going to be until February, but I decided to go ahead and make it now.  My appointment was October 8th.

At that appointment my doctor looked at my back and said, “oh!”  I said, “oh yeah, I have a spot back there don’t I?”  My husband had noticed a funny looking spot on my back in April of this year while I was tanning to go on a cruise in May.  I thought at the time that I would get it checked out in awhile but then life got busy and I forgot about the spot.

So, my doctor said that he didn’t want to take it off in his office.  He thought it should be looked at by a dermatologist.  He gave me two to call.  The closest one to me scheduled me for January 27th.  I called my doctor back to see if he thought that timeframe was okay and he did.

A few days later my parents were here visiting and they told me that they knew of people dying within months of having a melanoma and that they thought I should try to get another appointment.  I also received an e-mail from WebMD right around that time that was all about skin cancer.  I thought that maybe I should schedule something sooner.

I was talking to a co-worker about it and she told me that her brother-in-law had died a few years back, at the age of 32, from melanoma.  She recommended another Dermatologist to me and I gave them a call.  Fortunately, they had a cancellation on October 29th and I took it.

At my appointment the dermatologist thought the spot on my back did not look good.  She took that off to be biopsied and also took off another four spots to be biopsied.  She said she was putting a rush on it and I should hear back in a couple of days.

Well, I heard back yesterday (Friday, October 31st) and the news was not good.  I have three melanomas and two of them are Stage II.  Fortunately, again, her husband is a surgeon and she was pretty sure that he could get me in on Monday.  So, I called and have an appointment for Monday, November 3.

I have been on the Internet looking up as much as I can about it and am very nervous.  I’ve researched the different Stages and what they mean.  I’ve looked at survival rates and surgery procedures.  I looked at lymph systems and lymph node testing, etc.  My melanoma is 4 mm thick, but it was not ulcerated (open lesion).  That’s what is called a Stage IIA.  So, for size it is at the top end of that Stage, but for health of the area it is at the bottom.  I guess that’s a good thing.  I know that it is very likely that they will be able to get all of it and that my 5 year survival rate is 80%, but in my mind I keep thinking about the other 20%.

I will post again once I have had my surgery and know more.



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Linda Hendricks wrote Nov 1, 2008
    • Dear tmpickup..
      Let me first say that I’m very glad you took care of those spots. I am a survivor... breast cancer... it was 14 years September 30th. When I was first diagnosed I was obsessed with survival rates. I needed to know. But the fact is we don’t know. There is a lot we don’t know as to what makes up that 20% that survive... oh we know things we can do to improve our odds... but the bottom line we just don’t know. You were lucky to have discovered it and done something about it... I’m glad you didn’t wait for that January appointment... frankly I wouldn’t wait that long for any doctor...I’m glad you didn’t.
      My advice to you will be the same as a doctor gave me. I had gone to another doctor of mine for something totally unrelated... he hadn’t known yet about the diagnosis.. he came into the examining room and took one look at me... I was a blotchy mess... I had been crying all day about that 80% chance of survival...and asked what was wrong... when I told him.. he said... you know... you could be one of the lucky ones... and if you spend the next five years worrying whether you will be one of the survivors.. you will have wasted five years of your life worrying... only to find you worried for nothing..then he asked... do you feel good today...I answered yes... then he said.. so take it a day at a time and deal with it a day at a time... do what you have to do to improve your odds and enjoy each day...
      Actually it will give you a new prospective on life which you will find to be a very blessed thing...

      Good luck and God Bless,
      Linda



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cindylouwho1966 wrote Nov 1, 2008
    • Thank goodness you had a doctor who was really paying attention. Thanks for the reminder that anytime we see moles that have changed or spots that weren’t there appearing, you need to go to a dermatologist.

      Good luck with the surgery and follow up.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tmpickup wrote Nov 1, 2008
    • Thanks for all your comments.  It is wonderful to be able to read encouraging messages.  I will certainly post again on Monday after I’ve had my surgery.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tmpickup wrote Nov 3, 2008
    • Well, I called the Doctor’s office this morning because I just felt like I didn’t know what was going on or going to happen today.  It all happened so fast on Friday.  Anyway, it sounds like I won’t actually be having surgery today unless it is very minor.  I think I’m just consulting with the doctor today.  The woman I spoke to says they don’t do major excisions or do any lymph node work in this office.  He definitely does that in the OR.  So, my guess is we go in and talk and then I get scheduled for the OR.  I’ll write later today and let you know what I found out.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tmpickup wrote Nov 3, 2008
    • Here is my update!

      I went to the surgeon today and he took off all three melanomas.  I explained to him my concern about the lymph nodes, but he said that even though I was Stage II, my largest one was .4mm (not 4 mm like I heard on the phone).  That was GREAT news!  Makes a big difference.  He said they don’t do lymph node mapping until it is .75mm.  So, I do feel much better about that, but will always wonder I suppose.  I guess I just need to get over that.

      So, what he told me about my report is this.  Of the 5 spots I had taken off last Wednesday, one was fine, another was dysplastic nevi and was almost classified a melanoma.  The other three of course I already knew were melanoma and 2 of those were Stage II.

      So, he was going to take off just the large one on my back and then take the other two off at my next visit, but I was doing great so he took them all.  I am going to have a HUGE scar on my back and two pretty good size scars on my calf and right arm.  I’m going to live though, so I’m okay with that.

      They will biopsy the three pieces that were taken out today to make sure the margins are clean.  If not, we’ll go from there, but I’m certain that they’ll be fine.  I go back in two weeks to get stitches out.  The one on my back had stitches inside and out.  It was a pretty big opening.

      I know that I’ll have to go every 3 months to get checked for two years and then every 6 months until five years.  The likelihood of getting a recurrence or another one is high, but I’ll just have to be vigilant about checking myself and wearing sunscreen.

      I feel much better than I did this morning.  Not really in any pain right now.  I’m sure I’ll have somewhat of a paranoia for awhile that maybe will get better with time.

      I’ll check in and let you know how it’s going in a bit.

      Thanks for the thoughts and prayers.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tmpickup wrote Nov 6, 2008
    • Here is another mini-update.  Yesterday I went to work.  Was a bit sore, but I work on a computer all day so not too bad.  I came home from work and was out in the yard with the dog.  Talked to the neighbor a few minutes and noticed a piece of grass growing in the driveway.  I squatted down to pull it and ripped the stitches out of the incision on my calf.  Pretty dumb!  Anyway, to make a long story short, after almost passing out on the way to the car I made it to the doctor and am re-sutured.  Whew!  

      However, while I was there he said my pathology report came back.  All of the margins are clean!!!  So, they got everything that was there.

      I do have one other spot on my rear-end that we missed at the last dermatologist appt. that needs to be looked at.  Guess I was sitting on it or something.  It’s weird because I don’t really ever tan my butt. :)  Anyway, I have an appt. for next Tuesday.  Hopefully it is nothing.  Boy, do I feel a sense of relief knowing that we got everything we found so far.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tmpickup wrote Nov 11, 2008
    • Well, went to the dermatologist today and the other spot has been removed and sent for biopsy.  I should hear on Thursday or Friday.  Certainly not nearly as nerve wracking for me this time.  Still concerned though.  I feel like I’ve been there done that now.  I’m sure it will turn out okay.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tmpickup wrote Dec 31, 2008
    • Haven’t posted to this in a while.  The other spot had to be surgically removed as well.  Now, I go back to the dermatologist every 3 months for a complete check.  May have more in the future, but we’ll stay on top of them.  Hopefully!!!



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