Saturday, 31 March 2012

One Year After the Disaster - Surgery that is

Today is the one year anniversary of my WLE (wide local excision) to remove a 3 cm margin of tissue and muscle from my right calf where my melanoma was. I just posted on Black is the New Pink blog a response to Al's blog "Does Melanoma Hurt? Here is what I said.

"I didn't answer the facebook question "Does Melanoma hurt?" Like Chelsea mentioned, the emotional pain is the worst. But also, Gigi said, the incisional pain is still there to remind you that you have been in battle. The scars are there to remind us to be ever vigilant. Both physical scars and emotional ones. My incision still hurts one year after surgery (today, March 31st). Especially when it gets cold. Your blog reminds me that I'm terribly remiss in keeping mine up to date. My friend Bobbie with the ocular melanoma - stage 4 - is on the precipice of life ever after. That's been terribly emotionally consuming. Always makes me shudder "will that be me some day?" There again, emotional pain.
Keep posting and blogging. You touch us, even though you don't have melanoma. Your brother had it, and that's close to your soul."

I took some pics on this momentous anniversary and compare them to my initial surgery pics. The scar looks very well healed. Still a little messy looking right where the "golf-ball sized" hole was. But I had 2 infections there, so all in all, looks good.

5 days post op
1st dressing change
I almost fainted lol

dried blood
skin cleanser
all very colourful

3 weeks post op
removed all the small stitches
left in the huge ones to try to keep the holes closed
open areas eventually got infected
had to take 2 rounds of heavy antibiotics
to finally clear it up


One year post-op
Most of incision looks really good
The messy part in the middle is where the golf ball sized hole was
There were 2 infections there, so no nice neatly healed incision line
Still looks ok

This pic was taken 3 weeks post op to show what a huge chunk they took out of my leg
Tissue, muscle, skin - looks like a shark bite
When they said a 3 cm margin, I was expecting a 3 cm incision
But they meant 3 cm in all directions
Then to close it up they had to make an 8 inch incision to accomplish that
I was shocked

One year later, it sure has filled in a lot!!! Pleasantly surprised!!!

Can't complain, except I still do occasionally. lol. The scar area does still hurt, esp. when I bump it or someone bumps it accidentally (my hubby usually). I have numb areas below the incision line that will likely always be numb. That's ok. As long as the beast never again rears it's ugly head, I can live with that. I am so very lucky and so very blessed. I truly did "Dodge a Bullet". But I will be ever vigilant and be ever educating people that think "won't happen to me", "I'm too young to have cancer", "it's only skin cancer, you cut it out and you'll be fine". Tell this to Bobbie, or Samantha, or Eric, or Steve or any other of the thousands of warriors that are out there who have lost their battle or are dealing with Stage 3 and 4 Melanoma. Respect must be given to this taker of lives. New stats show that Melanoma is the cancer that has the highest mortality rate. 75% of all cancer deaths are from Melanoma. 75%!!!! 
We have to stay ever strong in getting our message out there. There has been lots of evidence lately that people are listening. There has been a public outcry and support of the cause. Stay strong. Bond together. The mole-mates community is a force to be reckoned with.

Can't let this anniversary pass with out thanks to God for keeping me healthy and safe. Thanks to my family: my husband, children, mom, grandmother, brother and everyone connected to us for keeping me safe and connected to earth. And very special thanks to Laurie!!! My rock. Without her I would have surely gone insane.  Happy Anniversary to me!!!!!!!!!!! And many more!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Hi. I stumbled onto this blog and felt so much relief and am thrilled to see what I'm feeling in your blog post. Last Wednesday, I had an SNLB and WLE. The dressing was taken off today and I'm still in so much pain and am exhausted from the past 5 weeks of madness. I think I dodged a bullet too. My lymph node was clear and I know that is fantastic. Even with the great news, I still feel emotional, depressed and confused. I don't know how to move on. Maybe this will feel better soon, but right now, I'm spent.

    Thank you for writing this blog post, because it really helped me tonight. All best, Pam

  2. I don't know if you'll see this so long after (and congratulations on almost 5 years!) but I had a WLE last month on my thigh and I'm so happy to see how well your scar filled in! Mine is so ugly right now, a proper sharkbite with corners at either end where the skin is puckered! It's hard to imagine ever letting anyone see it let alone touch my thigh! Can I ask how long it took before yours started to fill in a bit? I can cope with the scar and even a bit of a dip but this is much more extreme than I expected and the doctors told me I will "probably always have that dip" which is disheartening!!

    Thank you for your post, it has given me some hope. As a 30-year old who has never been a fan of the sun, I agree we need to raise some awareness about melanoma. It's not just for older people or just for sunbed users, it's a b**ch! Love to you and all fellow melano-mates xx

    1. HI! I wanted to reassure you about your scar. My melanoma was removed 3 years ago, and I went through the emotions you are describing. The good news is that you actually come to accept the scar as part of you, and nothing to be ashamed of. I have Albinism, and never went out in the sun or used tanning beds. So I guess I am NOT a good poster child for what to do to NOT get melanoma! Unfortunately, the "golf ball" hole really took the flesh out of my upper arm, and it is obvious. The hole will NEVER fill in I was told, as everything down to the muscle level was removed. I am almost bold enough to wear sleeveless garments! It is funny how you find yourself looking at others and suddenly feeling self conscious about wearing certain clothes. But it really does look like a shark bite scar, and I have had much fun with working up a story, because I live on the Florida coast and it is easy to get away with! I keep it moisturized, and that helps, too. Scar is white and blends in with the rest of me! Hope this helps. Also, the scar aches in the cold because all the layers of flesh that would keep the muscle underneath warm are not there, so think about that, too. Pretty soon, you will not even think about it most of the time! And THAT is the good news. All the best on staying healthy and happy for you and yours!