Thursday, 9 June 2011

My Story

My name is Carolyn Myers. I'm 50 years old, married with 2 teenaged children. We all live in British Columbia, Canada. In November or December 2010, an existing mole on my right calf started to change. Initially I noticed that it wasn't as flat as it was before. Then I had to be careful while shaving my legs. Then a funny spot showed up on 1/2 of it that looked like a pale nodule. I didn't think a lot of it at first, but then it started to get bigger and bigger quite quickly. Then it started to hurt. I made an appointment with my family doctor in February and she removed the mole plus 2 others that were getting larger. I didn't think anything more as I'm usually really lucky and reasonably healthy. Hey, nothing ever happens to me! I was at work when I got the phone call. I was told the mole on my leg was a melanoma. Wow! Hit me over the head with a baseball bat. I'm not a crier, but I put my head on my desk and sobbed until my head almost exploded. I went home and told my husband and then the doctor phoned me back to tell me it was a Nodular Melanoma, Clark's level IV, 2 mm, into the reticular dermis, non-ulcerative. She said the pathologist said not to worry about it but she would refer me to a surgeon who specializes in melanoma. The surgeon said standard treatment was a wide excision and sentinal lymph node biopsy and when could I do this. I was on my way to Disneyland with my children and I asked if we could do things when I returned. I also had an appointment with a plastic surgeon as it was likely I would need a skin graft. March 31, 2011 I had the surgery and luckily enough, didn't have a skin graft. But my leg looks like I had a shark bite. They did a 3 cm margin - like 1/2 a golf ball taken out of my leg. Now, from all my walking, my calves are large(ish) and muscular, so this was not an easy surgery. I'm one of the lucky ones in that all the margins are melanoma free and my lymph nodes are clean. 3 weeks of non-weight bearing and keeping my leg elevated at all times, made me weak as a kitten. It took a long time to get back on my feet again. Then I got a Staph +4 infection in the wound site. Yuck! About 6 weeks after the surgery, the surgeon removed 4 more moles - 2 that he thought should come off, and 2 that I thought he should take off. 3 of them are Clark's nevi (dysplastic nevi). I also have to see a dermatologist at the end of August for mapping and assessment.
Now, I say I'm one of the lucky ones, but in my research and looking at other people's blogs, I have discovered that the fight against melanoma is not over. Yes I have dodged a bullet, but I have to stay vigilant my entire life and so I look at this as a journey to recovery and an opportunity to share my story and help educate people on the risks of developing melanoma.

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