…it throws them for a bit of a loop, at least it did me. I was diagnosed with early stage skin cancer in May, which is National Melanoma Month here in the US and aims to raise awareness about skin cancer. It was malignant melanoma in my case, and I’m not gonna lie, I’ve allowed it to drag me down a little and it’s kept me from writing blog posts as you may have noticed. Sorry about that!
Here’s What Happened
So here’s what happened: I noticed a fairly new mole amongst the many I have which struck me as odd looking. I had only had it for about a year and a half and noticed that
a) it had been growing slowly but surely
b) it had a slightly elevated surface
c) it had two colors – dark brown on the inside, and light red on the outside.
Since I remembered reading or hearing somewhere that unusual moles should be looked at by a dermatologist to determine whether or not they would require medical attention, I scheduled an appointment to have my mole checked out. It’s a good thing I did as it ended up being removed and the biopsy on it revealed that it was, indeed, early stage melanoma.
After My Mole Removal
Next Up Was The Surgical Wide Excision Of Tissue
The next step was the surgical wide excision of tissue surrounding the location of where the mole had been to make sure that all of the melanoma got removed. That happened on a Tuesday ten days ago during the course of which I spent five hours in the hospital and 30 minutes on an operating table while my surgical oncologist cut out tissue from my right calf.
Preparing For Surgery
It required full anesthesia, 16 hours of fasting (no food or drinks after midnight before the surgery), and some logistical adjustments to my schedule.
Since I currently live alone with the pups, I had to board them for a day and a half at Riverbark Pet Resort, a trusted doggie hotel close-by. I didn’t have a definite time for the surgery yet and no idea how long I’d have to be at the hospital and how dizzy/sleepy I’d be when I got back home that night, so I figured they’d be better off at the doggie hotel.
I also needed to find someone who could give me a ride to and from the hospital since I wouldn’t be able to drive myself after having been sedated, and I had to cover my dog walking visits for the week.
I’ll admit that I underestimated the surgery, and although my doctor told me that I wouldn’t be able to walk dogs for about a week, I thought I’d be fine after two or three days post-op. Well, I was wrong. My right leg felt sore and tender, and my pain meds left my brain a bit on the foggy side. I ended up on a weeklong date with my couch and bed along with extra pillows to elevate the leg, and the back yard was the pups’ only means of exercise…and what do you know, they lived 😉
Surgery or not, the boy needs his morning exercise 😉 So I had a mole removed the other week, and the biopsy on it revealed that it was early stage melanoma, meaning I had to have some more tissue removed around it. Let’s hope that the biopsy on that comes back clear. 👍🏼 In the meantime, I have bought more skin covering summer clothes for my daily dog walks and will be better about reapplying sunscreen. ☀️
Thank goodness for my IC Kelsey whom I recently hired to help me out with dog visits. Not only did she cover for me last week and weekend, she also chauffeured me to and from the hospital. She’s truly a godsend and I’m so very grateful to have been able to rely on her.
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Follow-Up Visit With My Surgical Oncologist
I went in for my follow-up visit with my surgical oncologist yesterday morning and got the great news that the pathology on the removed tissue came back clear! The doc said that the wound is healing very nicely and that the scar itself won’t look so bad once the bruising and swelling will have gone down.
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We also decided to be proactive and remove another mole in a few weeks, this time from my left foot. It’ll be shaved off, require one stitch and then sent off for a biopsy. Fingers and paws crossed that it won’t be malignant melanoma again.
While this experience was certainly one I could have done without, I got a big lesson in skin care out of it. I am no longer leaving the house without having applied sunscreen, even on cloudy days, and especially when I’m out walking dogs in the prime sunny hours of the day between 10 am and 4 pm.
I’ll admit that I haven’t always been thorough about using sunblock these past few years, and have definitely been bad about reapplying it.
I’ve also done my fair share of shopping for more skin covering summer clothes for my dog walks. I used to wear shorts and tank tops and have replaced them with capri & palazzo pants as well as longer t-shirts.
First Morning Walk 8 Days After Surgery
I’ve learned that prevention and early detection are key in battling melanoma and will be going in for regular body scans during which my dermatologist takes a close look at ALL of my moles and determines whether or not one or several should be removed as a precautionary measure.
I’ll never run out of sun block ever again and will cover my skin as much as possible, especially during the peak sun hours of the day.
By the way, did I mention that I used to work at a tanning salon during college in my twenties? Well I did and tanned once or twice per week for several years, which probably contributed to my skin condition. I haven’t been back on a tanning bed in about 8 years and you’ll never see me in one ever again. I’ve always said that I loved my twenties and wouldn’t change anything if I had the chance to relive them. Guess what though – if I could go back in time, I’d cut out the tanning.
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Have you experienced a form of skin cancer on yourself or a loved one? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!