Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Happy Survivor Day!
It had always been nearly flat,dark in color, and about the size of an eraser at the end of a pencil. Now, it looked like a black blister the size and shape of a giant vitamin. I scheduled an appt. with the dermatologist.
I went in a few days later. It bled continuously, so I had to keep it bandaged up. I just wanted the doctor to remove the thing, and be done with it. He said "I better not do more than biopsy it. If I remove the entire thing, and it turns out to be cancerous, we will have no idea which lymph nodes it drains to."
He removed a good deep portion of it, and put 2 stitches in, to sew it back up. I went about my business for a week, not worrying too much about it.
A day after the biopsy, An uninsured motorist backed into me in a parking lot, and smashed in the entire side of my car. This further distracted me from my test results.
On the afternoon of February 12, 2008 I picked up my cell and had several missed calls and a message from the dermatologist himself. I was a little worried at this point, but figured maybe he was just a go getter and liked to call out results himself. I called his office, the minute I said my name the receptionist said "Hold on, he will want to talk to you." I said "Wait, is something wrong?" Her- "Let me just get the doctor." She came back on and said "He is doing cancer screenings at the VA hospital, call him at this number." I called the number, told the receptionist my name, and the doctor picked up immediately. I still remember his exact words. "Mrs. Jeppson, you have melanoma, this is extremely serious, you need to see a cancer surgeon immediately."
Whaaa? I could hardly process. I walked around in a daze, for the next couple of days. I went in to the dermatologist to have my stitches removed. Our conversation went like this
Me- "It's not that deep right?."
Me-"Well, I'm not going to die right?"
Doctor- "I don't know."
Me-"But... I have a little girl."
It's at this point, that I notice the nurse is crying. What?? Why is everybody crying? I didn't think this dumb little mole was going to be such a problem.
For the next month it was constant doctors appointments, pet scans, and MRI's. The entire time I had no idea what my prognosis would be. I knew what the internet said. The 5 year survival rate for a melanoma that has spread is less than 10%. It's one of the most deadly cancers you can get. Amazingly, it's one of the most deadly cancers, but most of us don't consider skin cancer a threat.
I met with my Surgical Oncologist a couple of days before my surgery to go over my scan results. He said "The scans are clear, unfortunately cancer could still have spread, even if it doesn't show on the scan."
SO I was hopeful, but still worried since he threw out the "it may have still spread" part. I went in to the hospital to have the melanoma, and surrounding lymph nodes removed. A week later I went in to have my incision sites checked, and hear how my lymph biopsies looked. The Oncologist said, "No lymph node involvement, we didn't even find one cell, we are shocked, we thought at that depth you would have cancer in your lymphs." Now, we all know that my lymphs weren't full of cancer because I was blessed. Miracles happen.
I was told if I could make it 5 years without a recurrence they would consider me cured. At that time, 5 years seemed SO far in the future. I remember thinking that in 5 years, I would be nearly 40! Well, here it is, my 5 year anniversary!! Two months before my 40th birthday. I now have a 9 inch scar, and an EXTREMELY thankful heart to always remind me of February 12, 2008.
Below is an excellent Melanoma video.