Malignant Melanoma & Back

by Hillary
(Cincinnati, OH, USA)

When I was growing up, I remember getting sunburns. But I also remember my mom being “crazy” about the sun and sunscreen.

Her dad had skin cancer, so she didn’t want to take any chances. She has remarkably fair skin, and she has aged incredibly well due to her precautions. My dad, on the other hand, has darker skin and is covered with lots of moles. I am the perfect combination of them, I suppose. Pale and mole-y.

When I was a teenager I started having doctors “take my moles.” That was how I considered it. Since all of them were benign, I resented them taking these marks that decorated my body and with which I identified. But I was resigned to it.

Then about a year ago a couple of moles on my chest joined forces. They grew together and started itching, and I felt worried.

I went to the dermatologist and she did a shallow removal. I was shocked when she later called to tell me the biopsy showed malignant melanoma and I needed to go to another doctor.

The next doctor explained to me that the edges were not clean and therefore we would need to do another biopsy. He told me that if I was his mother or wife, he would highly recommend that I get a lymph node (SLN) checked out too to be sure it hadn’t spread. Otherwise there would be no way to know for sure that it wasn’t progressing.

I was shocked. I agreed to the surgery and agreed to the lymph node removal. The surgery experience was fine, but to be honest – the doctor had a very difficult time in surgery for reasons I don’t totally understand and ended up having to cut a lot more than he expected. I have a significant scar on my upper chest, but I no longer have malignant melanoma.

My attitude to mole removal has completely changed, and I do a better job at covering up when I am in the sun, though I have always been far more cautious than my friends.

I have come to terms with the fact that some people are just more predisposed to Malignant Melanoma than others, and I am okay with all of the precautions I have to take. I am very happy to be cancer-free, and that’s all I need.

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