Melanoma for Valentine's Day

That’s what I got for Valentine’s day this year…Melanoma. I had gone to get a regular physical and my doctor pointed out a particular mole that she thought I should get checked.

Went to the dermatologist and he did a biopsy of said mole. Three stitches.

Phone call yesterday. Melanoma. Luckily it’s early stage. Scheduled to have the mole removed along with a LOT of healthy skin around it on February 28th.

The doctor said the odds are in my favor and excising it will more than likely be all I need to do to get rid of all the cancer cells.

For some reason, the part that most depresses me is that I will have a five inch long (or longer) football shaped scar right above my right breast. Sigh.

The dermatologist said I am lucky they caught it early, as melanoma can spread very fast. Even if I had waited a couple month to have it looked at, it could’ve meant removal of lymph nodes, chemotherapy and worse.

Yeah, it’s early stage which is good, but I’m still depressed about it. Thats why I put it in the Pit. Cancer. ~sigh~

Anyone ever have malignant skin cells before or know of anyone who went through something like this? Maybe hearing stories will make me feel better…or worse.

That sucks. I’m sorry to hear about it. No stories–yet–but I’ve got my eye on some skin oddities.

a procedure Mohs surgery removes small amounts of tissue and checks to see if there are cancer present. it keeps going until no cancer is found. this can take hours, most time is waiting for the cells to be looked at. it has the advantage that only what is needed is removed rather than taking a large area ‘just to be sure’ .

the skill of the surgeon and the particular Mohs surgery technique they use will determine the outcome. it all depends on what you have exactly and the doc and methods.

wish you luck.

Moh’s surgery. I will look it up and do some reading. I’m the type of person that likes to educate myself as much as possible so I can ask the right questions and kinda know a bit about what’s going on.

Thanks for that.

I had a superficial melanoma removed from just above my shoulder blade about 10 years ago. Like yours, early enough that the only treatment required was removal, and a follow-up with a dermatologist once a year. They removed a football-shaped piece, but the scar is just a straight line, as they pulled the edges of the football together. Not a big deal.

Best of luck.

I’m sorry for what you are going through – even if it’s treatable and will turn out fine it’s still scary and depressing. Especially if you didn’t have an idea anything was wrong. Do you have someone around you can talk to?

Melanoma is one of my biggest fears, since I had spent several summers as a lifeguard. ** MissSwitac**, I’ll keep you in my thoughts.

I have a good friend who had a melanoma removed from her back and after it was all done and healed, she says the worst part of it was having to go back in on a regular basis to have the doctor check for more. If you had to get a cancer, apparently this one is the best? easiest? one to get.

{{MissSwitac}} - it’s scary, but you’re going to be OK.

I had a melanoma diagnosed on my ear in October 2013. Stage 1a, with a Breslow of .3mm. I went from diagnosis to surgery in 11 days. I also had to have a skin graft because there isn’t enough skin on the ear to pull tight and stitch up. We didn’t find out until after the surgery that the biopsy actually got it all.

My suggestions:

  • Listen to the doctor, but ask questions if you don’t understand (general suggestion for anyone dealing with doctors). This goes before, during, and after the procedure. They may have a patient advocate who works in the office or hospital who can help if this is a problem.

  • Ask your doctor if they think a lymph node biopsy is indicated, and if not why not. In my case, the chance of a false positive was greater than the chance of there being a problem, so we didn’t do it. But that decision needs to be made thoughtfully.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for pain meds.

  • Scar massage is your friend. As is Mederma. I’m 4 months post-op and my scar is almost invisible.

  • Yearly visits to your dermatologist probably won’t be enough to ease your mind for the first year or two - don’t be afraid to go more often (I go quarterly now).

Feel free to PM me if you have questions or need support.

My in-laws have both had some stuff like that taken off, and they’ve breezed through it. Fil’s place was on his nose, so that’s one thing to be happy about–at least your scar won’t be on your face.

Also, if it makes you feel any better, I had an anal fistula repaired Monday and developed an impacted bowel afterward. I got a smorgasbord of laxatives and an enema for Valentine’s Day, after spending the day having massive stomach cramps that almost burst my stitches. So your day could have been a lot less fun.

Thanks everybody. I just got the news less than one day ago, so it’s invading my mind. I’ve had family members with far worse cancers than this, so I feel like I should just put my chin up and deal. I have family and friends to vent to , but no one who has ever had skin cancer. Putting things on The Dope is sometimes therapeutic
From the biopsy, the doctor said the Breslow is at .47 which is very good. They said that after surgery they want me to come for checkups every 3 months for the first year.

Thanks for your stories, encouragement and advice. They are all helpful. Mederma is on my next shopping list.

I’m sure I will feel better tomorrow.

Time to invest in a wide brimmed floppy hat, a beach coverup and a lifetime supply of SPF 100 sunscreen for me and my little 3 year old boy. He’s gonna get sick of mom’s lectures on the dangers of too much sun, but he’ll thank me later.

CrazyCatLady, too late to edit, but a smorgasbord of laxatives? LOL! That made me laugh. Not AT you of course, just in a “misery loves company” kinda way.

I’m sorry you had a crappy Valentine’s Day. (no pun intended) Feel better fast my dear.

Fair skinned California kid who never wore sunscreen here. I’ve had three melanomas excised successfully going back to 1997. I had two very small ones on my back and arm that took a couple of stitches, and a larger one on my cheek that required a bit of plastic surgery (done so well no one can see the scar). Each time the “margins were clear” with the first attempt, so I guess I was lucky in that regard. Every time I got the biopsy report it was like a punch in the gut, but my doctors were great and kept my panic level to a minimum . I get a skin check once a year–the dermatologist always says, "Don’t hesitate to make an appointment if you see anything suspicious at all–I will get you right in. "

I’m outdoors all the time still, but I am devout slip-slop-slapper (and you will be, too!).

That’s the spirit it was intended, so laugh away. And yeah, it was kind of an impressive array. I got a bag full of Miralax samples, a bottle of cherry-flavored magnesium citrate (that’s fizzy for some reason), and a two-pack of Fleet enemas. The enemas were apparently the last ones on the shelf at our local Dollar General, which led to some entertaining speculation about some folks’ plans for the weekend.

And my poor husband offered to help me with the enema if I couldn’t face the thought of navigating the stitches and drain tubes and whatnot myself. If that ain’t true love and devotion, I don’t know what is.

My mom, a sun worshipper from way back, had a melanoma excised off her face early last year. She was really concerned about scarring, but the procedure is very straightforward and the surgeon was great, and what was initially a four-inch line running straight down from her temple has faded into barely nothing. Plenty of Mederma (I think) and a great surgeon made all the difference. No recurrence after bunches of visits to the doc, but she is now quite friendly with all the nurses and front desk people.

So, to recap: no recurring issues, extremely little scarring, and she made new friends. A pretty good outcome if it has to be cancer!