Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry (Late) Christmas

Just wanted to write a quick post and a little update......

First of all, Merry Christmas, a day late! I had a very great Christmas, and I'm very spoiled for an almost 35 year old! It was nice to spend time with family, and I love watching the kids (little sister and nephew) open presents. My Christmas present to me will be a new iPhone, because Friday night I dropped mine and smashed it :( Luckily I was planning to get a new one anyways, so it could be worse. 

I couldn't help but think of the families who are not having such a merry Christmas this year. The families who lost loved ones in Newtown, CT for sure. A family I know that lost their unborn twins. And the families that are likely celebrating their last Christmas with a loved one due to melanoma, or who are missing those that were lost this past year or two. Of course there are many more who are affected by other types of cancers and other illnesses, and my heart goes out to them as well, but I feel especially bonded with those affected by melanoma. Those who are doing well give me hope for myself, and those who aren't doing so well make me more thankful for every day that I am healthy.

Speaking of being healthy, last post I said I'd hit the "reset" button on melanoma, and I did, but it was nowhere near as bad as I thought. One was just atypical cells, and the other was consistent with melanoma "in situ" which was still in the top layer of skin. My oncologist said it really isn't even melanoma yet, and might not have been for years and years. For the record, this is the scar made by melanoma caught at its absolute earliest: 

This was taken right after I took the compression bandage off, and it will get much better, but this is just one reason early detection is important! I know at least one person would see this and think, "Well, if that's what they do, then I'm not going to the doctor! I don't want to be cut on!", and that seems logical, that's what I would've thought too. BUT, melanoma doesn't shrink, it grows, and the necessary scar will grow too, along with the necessary tests and biopsies and medical treatment, and likelihood of death. You can see my original melanoma scar at the top of the picture, it healed pretty well, but the important part is that so far it hasn't spread past my lymph nodes, and hopefully it never will.

The great news about this new scar is that it was pretty much pointless! There were no atypical/precancerous cells left over from the original biopsies on either place. They have to do an excision to make sure, so no matter what, they were going to have to cut me up a little, and it's definitely a better safe than sorry scenario. 

So, to wrap it all up, hope you had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year, but keep those in mind who aren't having such happy holidays. And make your New Years Resolution to take better care of yourself - and for once, keep it!! You don't have to lose 20 lbs, work out 6 days a week, eat all organic raw vegan, just be good to YOU! Eat something that grew out of the ground for once, maybe take a walk, get your regular checkups at the doctor, smile at people, play with your kids, laugh!!! (PS, this was Melanoma Melissa talking, Personal Trainer Melissa says go ahead and lose those extra lbs, eat vegetables and lean protein, and plan to work out 6 days a week so you might actually get in 4-5!)

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Today I hit the melanoma "reset button". 2 weeks ago at my 3 month dermatologist checkup, I had 2 places biopsied, & found out today that 1 of them was malignant melanoma. It's "in situ" which means it's still in the top layers of skin, & more easily taken care of than last time. It'll require an excision of about a centimeter in diameter, plus some extra since they can't close up a circular incision. The 2nd one, on my leg, was atypical & they'll go ahead & do an excision there too (if this is done next week it's gonna ruin my 1/2 marathon for next weekend!)

The biggest lesson I learned from this is, we have to be our own advocate. I wasn't particularly concerned about either spot, but pointed them out to the doctor & he biopsied them because I'd noticed them & because of my history with melanoma. The doctor told me that he wasn't concerned about them either. I can't help but think that had I not pointed them out, melanoma could be spreading over the next few months, & I could have been in for more surgeries & lymph node biopsies. If you feel like anything is wrong, with your skin or anywhere else, insist that it gets looked at! Doctors are human & capable of making mistakes just like the rest of us, trust your instincts!

The clinical trial I'm participating in might also be affected by this new development. I've talked to the nurse & she will notify my oncologist & they'll have to see what's gonna happen based on trial protocol. I'm hoping I can continue, but I also know that whatever happens, I'll be fine. I believe everything happens for a reason, & if I have to stop the drug treatment, there is a reason for that. All drugs have side effects, & I've been fortunate enough to not have any so far, but there's no telling what's ahead. God may just have different plans for me, & His are most definitely better than mine :)