Listen to your loved ones!
About a year ago I shaved off a mole on my upper thigh. I thought nothing of it, even weeks later as it kept growing taller and looked uglier and uglier. My husband would comment on it when I’d hop in the shower, or get ready for bed, that I should call and get it looked at (I work at a hospital I would know if I had cancer right?!). My response was always the same, “Of course it looks bad, I shaved it off, give it time to heal…”
Well a year later and it didn’t heal.
So I finally called my physician. She was wonderful and got me in the next day, also didn’t like the look of it, so I had a biopsy right in her office! I didn’t know you could even have it done so quickly. She removed half of it just with that little biopsy and told me if I didn’t hear in two weeks everything was fine. I didn’t hear anything in those two weeks so assumed it was nothing. Three days later she called at 4:55 p.m. on a Monday evening. She said they found out a few minutes ago that the biopsy had come back positive for malignant melanoma and that I needed to see a dermatologist immediately. They had called around and found one by my work that could see me within the week so she asked that I call first thing in the morning since they were obviously closing now. I just looked at my husband and started asking him questions that he of course couldn’t answer. We got on my patient portal and looked up the pathology report that really only told us the depth of it and worried me more.
My mind started racing.
We got FMLA paperwork, we both called our work, I called family asking for advice and questions I should ask. And I was consumed with guilt over everything I’ve done in my life. Luckily my new Dermatologist said I could be seen the next day. So I finally called my physician. She was wonderful and got me in the next day, also didn’t like the look of it, so I had a biopsy. My dermatologist said with how deep it was he would’t be removing it and now I was even more scared. He gave me a complete check up to see if anything else looked suspicious and then we set up an appointment for a surgeon … luckily I knew the office since I work with their surgeons!
Two days later I was sitting in my Surgeon’s office crying and laughing at how I liked seeing him at work better than in this office under these circumstances. He said it wasn’t nearly as bad as the other two doctors made it seem, but because it was .2 inches deeper in the skin than they like I would benefit from a wide excision and drew about a 5×7 inch football shape on my thigh. He then asked if we could biopsy a lymph node, probably a groin, and explained this was just to ensure it hadn’t spread.
Surgery was scheduled for 2 weeks later and I went to work with my surgery team, I was consumed with looking up their education status, specialty, and wanted to pick exactly who was going to be in my room with me! My husband said I was completely obsessed, and I was, I had no control over my life right now, and I could control this. I would wake up crying in the middle of the night and my husband begged me to get anxiety medication from my physician, since she had offered. There was no way I would be taking anything and possibly changing this cancer if I could control it!
Shipped off to short stay
The day of my surgery I went into my hospital and saw the nuclear medicine staff for mapping, after a half an hour, and four lymph nodes marked in a row, I was shipped off to Short Stay and dressed in our stylish gowns. My husband was so supportive, he let me cry when I needed, and vent without interrupting! The nurses asked if I wanted to get in earlier with a totally different staff and I jumped at the chance to be getting out sooner! So I ended up with no one I had hand picked and met with my new surgeon (same office) who was just as amazing. She explained she would be removing all four lymph nodes and get a possible drain. The thought of a drain was the worst thing ever to me at that point, I begged to not have one, and thankfully ended up not requiring it.
After I woke up we left the hospital and the new wait would begin. I spent the day after surgery on strict bed rest, hubby and the kids made sure of that! Then I got up and walked as much as I could tolerate, by day 5 I was back to work, where luckily I ran into my doctor and she asked how I was healing, I told her I hadn’t expected to have such a huge indent and numb thigh and she said they might have struck a nerve in my hip so feeling might not come back (and so far it hasn’t). 5 days later my surgeon called and said everything came back negative and I was cancer free! I cried again out of relief.
Now I feel like I check myself too much!
I’ve already gotten one of those required 3 month checks, but I check myself every time I am in the bathroom or pass a mirror. I constantly worry about it coming back, and hope it will get better. I am so thankful for the staff of amazing people I had and continue to have, and relieved I was able to contact my oncologist and tell her I could cancel my appointment because of my new results! What a whirlwind May was for us!
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