Happy In The Greenery; A Cancer Scare

 
I’ve been covering up my skin from the sun for over 30 years. I use hats, scarves, shade, and of course buckets of sunscreen. But when I was a young teen I had several blistering sunburns at the Jersey Shore. At the time, we thought those burns were just painful, but not serious. Turns out they are (painful and serious). Those skin traumas are a large determinant of skin cancer in our 40’s and beyond.

I had a regular skin check two weeks ago, and the derm doctor biopsied what she called a “suspicious” mark near my left elbow. It looked just like a normal age spot to me, and I have dozens of those, heh. Abundance of caution, I told myself. Then ten days after the tiny punch biopsy, I got the call. The call you never expect if you haven’t been down that path before: “You have a small melanoma, and we want to see you as soon as possible.”

Life is good, I’ve been lucky, Florida Spring looks greener, and I’m staying in the shade forever.

Big gulp. Step One of the five stages of grief kicks in: denial. This can’t be, look how pale I am, I can’t have cancer, I’m only 39 (I’m 62, but that really flew by),etc. I jumped over a few grieving steps and landed on “depression and anxiety”. And internet searches, the curse of anyone given a brief diagnosis over the phone. And reflection on how fragile and wobbly our existences are.

None of us has been promised freedom from disease. I better get slightly more serious about what I’m supposed to have accomplished here! And at the same time, I can let go of so much insignificant stuff that fills my mind every day. Really, truly, if my blog post is a few days late, or the windows leak a little in a rainstorm, is that such a tribulation?

Jump to Wednesday, two days ago. The first thing the doc said to me when I walked into the outpatient operating room was “Today is a great day for you! You have Stage 0 melanoma, confined to the local area.” Then she sliced me up (I needed a scar on my left arm to go with the beauty on my right wrist). Thirty minutes later I was stitched and bound and on my way to normal life again. Cancer, be gone. For now. But thanks for the lessons, I needed that.

It’s good to be a ZERO!

 

Stay fabulous, check your skin regularly, and live a great life, xo

 

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44 Comments

  1. Oh, Patti, that would be such a scare! I’m glad you are a “0” too! I’ve been getting more and more strange spots and I am naturally pale like you. With every new thing that appears, I wonder, “hmm, is that something?” So much vigilance is required after a certain age.

  2. Yea for you! Those are the kinds of days we love. 🙂 I’m so very happy for you. 🙂

  3. Both my dad and my grandmother had skin cancers removed, so I’ve been super-cautious with my skin since that happened, when I was 17. However, like you, I burned and blistered when I was a kid, so I’m always hyper-vigilant about any moles. So SO glad that this was a 0, Patt. Hugs to you, hon.

  4. I am so glad that they caught this and it is considered stage zero. Taking good care of your skin and avoiding sun is so important. Especially as we are fair skinned.
    I love you look today, it is very cheerful and beautiful. It is so smart to keep a good and healthy perspective. I wouldn’t worry about a late blog post, but I might worry about water leaking in from the window. ..
    ❤️❤️❤️
    Elle
    https://theellediaries.com/

  5. Great news for you 🙂 Worrying and waiting here for results = BCC phew! When younger, a long time ago – sun tanned – fried then picking, stripping off the burnt, peeling skin, using coconut or baby oil to deepen the tan or really ‘fry the skin!’ pricking blisters…… and so on. For many years now, slip, slop, slap and avoid the sun when possible in our great southern land. Sam the Aussie

  6. Lost my 92 year old dad to melanoma 2 years ago. He was quite healthy at the time with no other major chronic illness. He really never considered the sun to be the potential danger that it truly is. I’m very happy that your was caught Patti! Stay vigilant!

  7. What a relief. Echoing what everyone else has said here, and no doubt, tons of other readers who feel the same but didn’t comment… thank goodness it was something that could easily be looked after. Phew. Pour yourself a class of something chilled and bubbly!

    • Thank you Sue! I was told no alcohol for 48 hours after surgery, but I rebelled! xo

  8. Nothing like that kind of over-the-phone diagnosis to reduce one’s life vision to a pinprick–with very sharp edges. Very, very happy for you that the diagnosis is stage 0. Now to get your heart rate back to normal…

    • so well said, Mary – the world starts moving in weird ways. Thanks for your kind words, xo

  9. Oh Patti, I’m so relieved to hear it was caught early and contained! Thank goodness! My dad had melanoma twice (both times caught and removed), and I’ve been getting semi-annual skin checks since my 30’s.

  10. Glad it was caught early! Having been through cancer myself (breast) it’s a scary road to have to go down. Hearing the “C” word for any part of the body is nothing you want to ever hear. I have always used sunscreen, but missed a big area on my chest when I was 16 and was burned pretty bad. It still haunts me and I keep my fingers crossed that it won’t create a problem one day.

    • So glad you made it though breast cancer, Shirley. It is truly the word we never want to hear, about ourselves and anyone close to us. xox

  11. First off, I’m glad you’re okay. But, MAN! How scary.

    My mom gets diagnosed for skin cancer on the regular but it’s not melanoma. It’s a slow-growing one they remove right there in the office. That’s not to belittle her experience because I don’t like that she deals with this so regularly. But the “M” word is the one I fear the most for her as well as for me in a dermo’s office.

    I am grateful you shared this with us. Thank you. And, PHEW!

    Hugs,
    Sherry

    • Thanks Sherry – you’re so right, that “M” word has the power to wake us up! xox

  12. So glad that all is well! I remember receiving the same diagnosis after a punch biopsy on my thigh. When the doctor greets you personally at the door the news is never good but a I had a wide excision on the leg and five years of follow up and so far so good. Like you I am very fair but also fried a few times trying to tan in my youth. I avoid the sun as much as I can and always use sunscreen. Yes, women of colour can and do get melanoma. A young friend of mine recently had one removed from her breast ( loves her bikini but never thought she needed sun screen) She will be fine ( Stage 0)
    Be well!

    • thanks for the good words, and I’m relieved your leg is OK. the sun can really bite us in the back! (or other places!) xo

  13. Aw Patti…sorry you had to go through this, but I am sooooo relieved to hear the end result. All those emotions. And of course, time stands still when we’re waiting. And worrying.

  14. Yikes! what a scare! I’m so happy to learn that it has been looked after and you are okay.

    Like you I was a bit of an idiot when it came to sun exposure when I was young. I fried myself to a crisp many times and then to top it off I managed a tanning salon and literally baked for 45 minutes about 4 times a week. This makes me think I need to consider seeing a dermatologist and get checked out more often. I’ve never had this done.

    Sometimes these kinds of things are wake up calls to remind us what is really important in life.

    I swear that the internet it the worst place when you are researching medical issues.

    Suzanne

    • so true – I get complacent sometimes, like “I’ll be nearly invincible!! After all, I am me!” and then I get a knock on the head. Needed it. xox

  15. Sense of déjà vu for me. About 8 years ago I moved here from another state and had my first appointment with my new doctor for a checkup. She looked me over and pointed to one of many freckle-like brown places on my lower left leg. “How long has that been there?” she asked. I had noticed it because it had an odd shape, but had no idea how long it had been there. Turned out to be stage 0 melanoma, like yours, Patti. I later learned that is one of the most common places on the body where women have melanoma. I credit that doctor with saving my life. I’m glad you had the same good fortune.

    • hooray for you and your doc! Yes, I’ve learned that odd shape = potential problem. xo

  16. Hallelujah!
    I can’t imagine how freaked out you were until you found out for sure you were a-ok. I’m sure it does re-arrange one’s perspective on…everything. I’m still in a shocked state from just reading about your experience. Take good care, buddy.
    I should probably finally go in for a dr.’s checkup…

  17. I am so happy to hear your melanoma was a stage 0, it is very scary to hear that anything needs to be biopsied and then get that dreaded call. So happy for you!

  18. I am so grateful it turned out ok, I have had 2 Basal cancers, my mom and dad squamous and my late grandmother a melanoma caught in time. We all had treatment and are rid of those but are diligent about skin checks with our derm. My dear friend from High School died of melanoma at age 34 with 5 children, so so scary. Thank you for this reminder pretty lady!

    • thank you Andrea – you’re right, it seems every family has a member who’s been through it. xo

  19. Patti, I’m so happy to read that you’re ok and that you’re gonna be ok. That cancer diagnosis is the scariest thing {I remember when I received mine – standing in the kitchen}. Thank you for the reminder – people think people of color can’t get melanoma either, but we can and we do. Be healthy, my friend. And enjoy the shade.

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