Friday, February 02, 2007
Tomorrow Marks Two Years
Tomorrow will mark two years since my melanoma primary was removed. In some ways it seems like an eternity. I know I have been lucky as all get out in more ways than one. The old photo of me that I’m posting could be an illustration that skin type is not a guarantee that you don’t have to worry about melanoma. I didn’t use to worry as much about my skin as I might have because I tend to get darker and darker and rarely burn. My skin is actually lighter than I thought because it wasn’t until a year or so after I was diagnosed with melanoma that I saw what my skin looked like without at least a little tan. On February 3, 2005 I went to a dermatologist and told him I wanted a cutaneous lesion removed from my hip. I said that I knew it was nothing because a dermatologist 20 years ago had told me it was nothing due to it being symmetrical. After 20 years, I FINALLY went to another dermatologist because what started as a blue/black mole which bled around the edges had turned into a large dome which caught my underpants and hurt when I slept on my left side. It never spread on the skin or had irregular borders but it was becoming a major annoyance. When I described the history to my current dermatologist he said that it could be melanoma but he leaned towards an ulcerated blood blister because he didn’t think I would have done as well as I had for 20 years if it was melanoma. He removed the lesion with a shave biopsy and I went home assuming that it was an ulcerated blood blisters. At that point melanoma was barely in my vocabulary and I wasn’t concerned enough to find out more about it. I enjoyed my weekend and on Monday I received a call that I didn’t expect. I was told that the lesion was nodular melanoma and was at least 6.9 mm deep. I was also told that 4 out of 5 of the dermatopathologists who reviewed the slides favored it as being a metastatic lesion but that one thought it might be the primary. I was given the survival stats for IIC and for stage IV melanoma and was told that they were going to fit me in the next day for a head to toe check and that I was set up with an appointment with a surgical oncologist at a research university who specialized in melanoma. They had set the appointment with the surgical oncologist the same week and I was being fit in so fast due to how deep as well as unusual my melanoma was. The upshot was that they didn’t find any other involvement when I had a PET/CT scan so they treated the cutaneous lesion as the primary and I had a wide excision and sentinel node biopsy. Another 2.8 mm of melanoma was removed during the wide excision and my sentinel node was positive for a small focus of metastatic melanoma. I had a groin lymph node dissection two weeks after the SNB and no other tumors were found. Over the past two years I’ve had some scares but no other confirmed melanoma has been found and I’m starting to believe that I am free from melanoma. We had a pretty but short lived snow this week and I did get a chance to take some photos before it switched to freezing rain and just rain.