Finally…I was able to retrieve my old blog posts from my former blog site. These posts shed a little more light on the information located on my current Home page. I detail in these posts my doctor’s appointments and diagnoses from 2006-2012. Info from 2004-2006 and 2012-2014 is lost (or should I say never captured). I have a fairly good excuse on why the 2004-2006 years were not captured. My excuse is…I thought my initial melanoma diagnosis in 2004 meant “cut it out and you are done”. OH MY…what a horrible misconception I had back then. I have no good excuse for the missing 2012-2014 years. By 2012, my fifth melanoma diagnosis, I knew this was a life-long battle.
Anyways, enjoy my blog posts below from 2006-2012…AND don’t laugh…I never really intended for anyone to read them. 🙂 It was just for my journaling pleasure.
January 18, 2006
How it all started…
Why the Black Ribbon? Melanoma means “black tumor”.
Black is the color of the warrior’s mood when going into battle and the melanoma patient is in the battle for life.
I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma Sept. 2004 (yes, while wading through Nursing school). I had my first skin surgery a few weeks later and proudly display an approximate 8 inch scar from this on my left upper back. After this initial surgery, I was seen every two weeks for biopsies (about 6-8 each time). I will not take you through the full details of each and every surgery, but to date I have had approx. 10 skin surgeries (back, leg and abdomen) and also to date I am proud to report that I am now on a 3 month check with biopsies (only about 3 each time) instead of every 2 weeks. Also to date, this cancer has not metastasized (spread) to other areas. I would encourage each and every one of you who reads this to check out the following sites and if you have a question about any areas (freckles/moles) on your body to have it checked by a dermatologist.
February 22, 2006
Well, not so good news, but better than the alternative. I found out that all my biopsy spots showed severe dysplasia. In anyone else, this would not be an immediate issue for treatment, but for me this means 3 more surgeries. My doctor has scheduled actually 2 surgeries because 2 of the spots are about an inch apart on my right upper back and hopefully can be removed together in 1 surgery and the other surgery will be on the right side of my abdomen. These surgeries are relatively minor compared to my “melanoma surgeries”. These minor excisions/surgeries leave a scar about 2-3 inches long, whereas my melanoma surgeries have left scars approximately 6-8 inches long. These 2 newly scheduled surgeries will be #11 and #12 of the ongoing battle.
March 8, 2006
One Down, One to Go…
I had my severe dysplasia abdominal excision yesterday and all went well except for last night when I began to have some internal bleeding problems. I believe everything is now under control, but still keeping a really close eye on the area. I also have developed a tape/adhesive allergy since I began my surgeries and when Scott removed my top bandage last night I thought I was going to scream. The incision area did not hurt as bad as removing my outer bandage because it began tearing my skin with a rash and blister-type areas appearing. This tape/adhesive allergy gets worse and worse as I am exposed to it, even band-aids are a nightmare to have on my skin anymore. I did go to work for 5 hours today, but had to leave because the internal bleeding began moving downward again at a snails pace. If this bleeding does not subside by tomorrow, I will visit the doctor again, otherwise, next surgery scheduled for March 22nd on my right upper back area and suture removal on my abdominal incision. Will keep you posted…
Also, I had my mole-mapping appt. yesterday before my surgery. Every inch of my body was photographed by a Biomedical Photographer and then the 33 images were downloaded onto a CD-ROM and a copy given to my doctor and a copy given to me for home use. The purpose of this is rather self-explanatory, it will be used to track any new moles and to track the status of existing moles. Check out DigitalDerm for more info.
Thank you Scott for taking me to my appt. with DigitalDerm and for staying with me during my surgery and even staying with me in the room while my surgery was taking place. You are my strength and encouragement to stay on top of these medical issues. I love you and I love you more for loving me without and now with my ever-so-scarred body.
Thank you Mom for traveling from Atlanta to be with me and for cooking dinner for me, Scott and Gene. I am forever grateful! I love you!
March 23, 2006
Last One…(for now)
I had my second surgery yesterday on my right upper back (really closer to my shoulder) area. I have had no complications so far and the doctor used paper tape and gauze this time to help with the tape/adhesive allergy. This will be my last surgery from the last biopsies, but will return in June for my 3 month check-up with more biopsies. In speaking with my doctor yesterday, I may go in before June for more biopsies…I will keep you posted. I return to work tonight and then will be off until next Wednesday night. My, I love my new schedule and my new job for that matter.
June 14, 2006
Best health news I have had in a long time
I had my 3 month check-up today and NO BIOPSIES!! I couldn’t believe it! Scott went with me to my doctor’s appt. and the whole time she was checking me head to toe I continued to ask her, “Are you going to take that one off”? After asking that question about 10 times and getting her NO response, I was told everything looked good and I was on my way with my next check-up appt. in 4 months. I’m not sure most of you know the significance in this news so I think a little background history is in order. I was diagnosed September 2004 and have not stepped into that doctor’s office in the last 2 years without being cut on in some way and my appts started out every 2 weeks and have now just gotten to every 3-4 months. In the last 2 years I have had (guessing) about 50 biopsies and 12 surgeries (3 major and 9 minor). Needless to say, I am thrilled with the news. I was scared at first with her not taking spots off to check them, but after the news sank in I realized…I am hopefully getting on top of this. Hallelujah!!
October 19, 2006
I went to the Dermatologist October 17th for my 4 month check-up and had 3 biopsies. One on my left upper arm and the other two on the inner side of my right calf. So far I haven’t heard a report either good nor bad, so I guess I will continue to be positive and hope for the best. I will (of course) keep you updated.
October 26, 2006
Good news and bad news
OK…now the bad news (or good news depending on how you look at it). All of my biopsies came back atypical. No Surprise! Since they came back atypical and severe dysplastic we will have to excise 2 of the 3 biopsies. The Dermatologist got all of the margins clear with the biopsy for one of the areas on my leg. I will have to have further excisions for the other one remaining on my right leg and the one site on my left upper arm. The good news is they are not melanoma and hopefully we caught them before they could become anything worse than severe dysplastic nevi. I have not scheduled these excisions, but will keep you posted on the dates.
December 3, 2006
One down, One to go
Today was the day…the day I had the area removed off my right lower leg. In an earlier post I mentioned that both areas to be excised were severe dysplastic. Today, I looked at the pathology report and both areas are only moderate dysplastic, but still need to be removed. Dysplastic nevi are either mild, moderate or severe and are not Clark staged. Diagnoses of melanoma are Clark staged and are 0 (in situ), I, II, III, and the most severe IV.
Anyways, today Dr. Poinsette removed an area approximately 2 – 2 1/2 inches in length from my right lower leg and unfortunately on my shin area. I have never had an area removed on my lower leg and have never been able to sit up and possibly observe the procedure. Today I was able to do this and it was not a good idea. Scott was with me during the procedure and I decided to watch the initial process and shortly afterwards turned my head. The doctor said, “You shouldn’t have looked at it, should you?” I can watch this type of procedure all day long, but when you are watching a doctor cut on you it is a whole different ballgame. Needless to say, that will probably be the last time I watch Dr. Poinsette cut on me.
I get my stitches removed December 19th, but still have an appointment December 12th to have the area removed on my left upper arm.
December 9, 2006
My leg is healing nicely. Just in time for my next surgery on Tuesday. 😉 I worked for 12+ hours on Thursday and Friday without complications.
December 10, 2006
Today was #14 surgery on my left upper arm. Again, as mentioned in my post from my last surgery last week this surgery was to remove a moderate dysplastic area. Same amount of sutures as last surgery and same size. I will be returning to work tomorrow and not taking a day off after surgery because I should be OK due to the location of the area removed. I have another appt. next Tuesday for her to look at a couple more areas and possibly biopsy and to have sutures removed from my leg. As always, still truckin’ along…
March 1, 2007
THE RESULTS ARE IN…
Would you like the good news or the bad news first? Is there ever any good news? I guess it depends on how you look at it?
The good news is…NO Melanomas. The bad news is…two more excisions.
The biopsy on my right thigh was totally benign (I was beginning to forget what that word “benign” meant). The biopsy on my right calf was classified as moderate dysplasia with unclear margins and will have to be removed further. The biopsy on my left calf was the worst and was classified as severe dysplasia with numerous melanocytes and will also have to be removed. Who is keeping count…this will be surgery #15 and #16. The excision on my left calf will be March 13th and right calf will be March 30th.
March 13, 2007
Excision #15 was done today on my left lower leg. I did not have all of the correct information in my last post about the biopsies, but the doctor explained a little more to me today. The area excised today originally came back as inconclusive melanoma in situ. The pathology report stated that melanoma in situ cannot be ruled out and the doctor told me that it would be treated as melanoma, but the report will not actually show it was an excised melanoma. Good thing…for insurance purposes. Dr. Poinsette did not take as much skin around the area as previously done with my other melanomas (thank goodness). The doctor and I also discussed further biopsies because there are many other moles that resemble the one excised today. Of course, as I have mentioned in the past, I am not a textbook melanoma patient because none of my melanomas have looked like anything you have ever seen in books or on TV. That is very frightening. I encourage anyone and everyone who feels like an area on their body just doesn’t look right to get it checked out. Better safe than sorry!
Dr. Poinsette also referred me to an Optometrist because of recent headaches and visual disturbances. The plan is to see the Optometrist and if all is normal and the symptoms persist, we will proceed with a CT scan or MRI. I have also requested a PET scan to rule out any metastasis (spreading) throughout my body, but this has not been scheduled yet. The Optometrist appt. is scheduled for March 27th. Please keep me in your prayers.
March 20, 2007
More health related news
I finally couldn’t take the headaches anymore and saw my family doctor today. After hearing all of my symptoms, he had a definitive diagnosis…ocular migraines. He ordered blood tests and a CT scan to rule out anything else. My CT scan is scheduled for tomorrow and hopefully I will know the results of my blood tests in the next couple of days. The doctor was also very concerned about my recent change from prescription brand Ovcon to prescription generic Balziva. He explained that hormonal changes can also cause many, if not all, of my symptoms. Just for kicks I visited a website for the new drug Balziva and low and behold I have all of the listed side effects. Imagine that! He also prescribed me Imitrex for the migraines to see if indeed that could be a likely diagnosis. I guess we will see if the medicine works and hopefully the CT scan and blood tests will all show normal findings. Even though everyone that knows me knows that I am far from NORMAL. 😉
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had an appointment with an Optometrist March 27th. Well, that appointment is actually tomorrow and scheduled with an Opthamologist. I always get eye doctors confused. I have a very busy day scheduled for tomorrow and I also have to work. I will keep you all updated on the results of all tests. Thank you all for thinking about me and keeping me in your prayers.
March 22, 2007
Yesterday I had my CT scan and eye examination. The CT scan was not as intimidating as the eye exam. I had numbing drops put into my eyes and a machine against my eyeballs and then I had my eyes dilated. I have never had my eyes dilated and really never want to have that done again. I was at work yesterday and left to go to these appointments and had to go back to work after having my eyes dilated and wore sunglasses for the rest of the day at work.
Now to the good news! My eye exam was normal with no problems to address. Today I received information regarding my bloodwork and CT scan…ALL NORMAL. I was (to say the least) crazy excited to get that news. So, now you ask, what is the problem I am having and why am I having all of these weird symptoms all of a sudden? I think I definately have the answer now. BALZIVA!!
I have been researching this new medication online and found the following forum: http://www.topix.net/forum/drug/ortho-tri-cyclen/TG8RUQ0PFJB5DHJS6/p1
This is the craziest thing. A lot of the females in this forum have had the same symptoms that I have been having and have also had many different side effects. Now get this…a few of the women in this forum have been switched from Ovcon 35 to Balziva and have done nothing different and have not missed pills and are now pregnant. There has to be a stop to this madness. How can the FDA continue to let this medicine be approved for usage? I have discontinued taking Balziva and it has been about 3 days now. The doctor said the side effects should subside in about 2-4 weeks without the medication. Hopefully they will. Please read the forum if you are interested in this issue and definately read the forum if you have recently been switched to Balziva.
March 30, 2007
(Un) Sweet Sixteen
My sixteen excision was performed today on my right calf area. My doctor seems to be concerned about more spots appearing on my legs and wants to perform more biopsies. That appointment will be April 17th. I wish there was an easier and less invasive way to check the spots on my body without always having to cut them out. I have been referred to an oncologist at Emory University. I will probably go and see him soon to see if there is anything else I need to be doing or to see if we are on the right track.
April 12, 2007
Back to the Eye Doctor
I have been to the eye doctor more in the past two weeks than I have been in my whole life. I went back to see him today because I am still having problems with the spots and floaters. My headaches have gotten better, but I am still having the visual problems. The eye doctor still seems to think everything is OK and appears normal. He says that floaters are harmless and will continue with age. Yippee!! It is so fun getting older!
April 17, 2007
Yet again…more biopsies
I thought all my scars would be hidden on my back, chest and abdomen, but now I have scars all over my legs. I got a few more biopsy spots to add to the collection on my legs today.
I had biopsies taken from my left lower leg, right calf and right inner thigh. Hopefully no more surgeries for a while. Again, I will keep you updated on the results.
April 24, 2007
I got the “good news” results from my biopsies today.
The biopsy on my left lower leg was completely benign and the other two on my right leg were moderately dysplastic (abnormal), but all edges were clear. The doctor says we can just watch the ones on my right leg. That means…you guessed it…no more surgeries for a while. YEAH!
June 5, 2007
Skin Cancer Awareness
Most of you are aware of my situation with skin cancer, therefore, the following campaign is very important to me.
June 25, 2007
Good health news to report
I had three biopsies taken from my left upper arm, left foot and left thigh on Friday, June 15th. The nurse at the Dermatologist’s office called me today and reported all were BENIGN. I wasn’t sure I had ever heard that word before (pertaining to my health situation), but it has such a nice ring to it. I am not scheduled to go back until sometime in October. Nice…
April 28, 2008
I thought we were finished with all of this
I recently found out the hard way that being diagnosed with melanoma is a life-long struggle.
I have been doing very well with my trips to the dermatologist and was just recently up to every 6 month check-ups. I went for my 6 month check on April 16th and three biopsies were performed. One on my right upper arm and the other two on each of my legs. I waited for the results and thought I was in the clear on day 7 of not hearing anything, but on April 23rd I found out about the life-long struggle. Again, I have been diagnosed with a Stage I invasive malignant melanoma on my right upper arm. I have not had a melanoma since January 2005.
I had surgery (wide local excision) on my right upper arm Friday, April 25th and am still recuperating. I am scheduled to have my sutures removed May 13th and possibly more biopsies. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.
May 21, 2008
Marc Jacobs Skin Cancer Awareness Campaign
About the campaign:
The “Protect The Skin You’re In” campaign began last year when Marc Jacobs and fellow business partner Robert Duffy, President of Marc Jacobs International, LLC, persuaded celebrities including Naomi Campbell, Winona Ryder, Rufus Wainwright, Julianne Moore, and Selma Blair to disregard warnings from agents and managers and pose naked for a series of T-shirts about the dangers of skin cancer. The campaign raised awareness and almost $400,000 for the NYU School of Medicine’s Interdisciplinary Melanoma Cooperative Group, led by Dr. Iman Osman. Photographer Brian Bowen Smith traveled around the world multiple times for photo shoots for the shirts, a tribute to late NYU physician Dr. Jesse Ruben.
Mr. Duffy, a patient of Dr. Richard Shapiro, spoke about his treatment for melanoma at the NYU Cancer Institute Gala. He said the melanoma campaign will be an annual affair for Marc Jacobs: last year’s sold out designs are being reissued along with new T-shirts, featuring the models Helena Christensen, Eva Mendes, Heidi Klum and Alison Lohman in the nude.
Every hour, someone dies of melanoma, but if caught early, the cure rate could be 100 percent. Melanoma is the easiest cancer to detect early because all you need is a trained pair of eyes. The message is don’t let embarrassment stop you from stripping down before your physician or someone you love, and use the ABCDE rule–developed by physicians at NYU Medical Center–to determine if a mole could be cancerous: A for asymmetry; B for irregular border; C for color variation; D for diameter larger than a pencil eraser; and E for evolution of existing mole.
September 10, 2008
3 month check
I had my 3 month check-up with my dermatologist today and it was a little worse than I expected, but not as bad as it could have been. She took a biopsy from my left upper thigh and she thought it resembled the last melanoma she took off my right upper arm…not good. I only had one biopsy this visit, so again it was better than it could have been. I will keep you updated on the results.
Still busy with work and school and will be finished with school December 18th…YAY!!
September 16, 2008
Well, when I saw my dermatologist’s telephone number on caller id today my heart sunk into my stomach and I was nauseated because I knew that it was much too early to get “good” news. Quite the contrary…the spot biopsied was atypical, but removed with the biopsy. GREAT NEWS!! The only thing I need to do now is show up to my next appointment in 3 months…December.
December 9, 2008
Dermatology appt – 3 month check
I went to see Dr. Poinsette today for my 3 month check and she took a biopsy from my left side back. She thought everything else looked good and wanted me back in 3 months. Stay tuned for biopsy results…
January 2, 2009
I have fabulous news…
As most of you know, I was diagnosed with melanoma in September 2004 and have been battling this disease ever since. I have had numerous skin surgeries, but never chemotherapy or radiation. My oncologist, Dr. Stephenson, ordered a PET scan to check for metastatic disease (disease that has spread to lymph nodes or internal organs). I had the PET scan on December 29th and received the results today.
I have NO METASTATIC DISEASE!!
This news gives me the strength to keep moving forward with my current treatment.
January 8, 2009
I have lost count…
I’m not sure if this is #18 surgery or if I have now lost count after all these years…
The biopsy from my left back taken on December 9th came back moderate-severe dysplastic and extended to the edges of the biopsy, so it needed further excision. I had this excision yesterday and am taking it easy around the house today because I have to work a very long weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). I am very thankful that I have a wonderful dermatologist that is very proactive in my treatment and that she finds and eliminates these areas before they either turn into melanoma or become advanced stage melanoma. I am also very thankful for my wonderful support system…Scott, my family and my friends.
I will be getting my sutures out on the 21st and another biopsy.
February 4, 2012
My…how time flies
Well…I guess a quick three year update is in order. I’m not sure where to start, so I guess I will just start with the main reason I decided to blog today.
After almost four melanoma-free years, I was diagnosed with a recurrence this week. I have continued with follow-up skin checks every three months with my doctor and have had several biopsies and small local excisions for moderate-severe dysplastic nevi. I have switched doctors and now see Dr. James DeBloom at South Carolina Skin Cancer Center http://www.southcarolinaskincancer.com/. I had a biopsy on my right lower back on January 30th and was contacted with the results (malignant melanoma in situ) on February 2nd. I am scheduled for Mohs surgery on February 14th. In the past few weeks I have discovered hot yoga and I hope that combined with healthy eating, positive thinking, faith, and a wonderful support system will keep me on track. Since May 2011, I have lost about 18 pounds and feel great. I try to do some type of exercise at least 2-3 times/week. I have also started eating healthier and making other positive changes.
I vow today to keep up with my blog and update more frequently. It is quite therapeutic. :-}
February 14, 2012 – Happy Valentine’s Day to ME
Bye, Bye Number 5
Today I was introduced to MOHs surgery. http://www.skincancermohssurgery.org/
Melanoma #5 on my right lower back was removed today with MOHs. After four, rather large, wide excisions for previous melanomas, I am particularly grateful for this beautiful technology. My physician initially removed a very small, thin area around my initial biopsy spot and I was bandaged up to sit in the waiting room. During my 1 1/2 hour wait in the waiting room, my physician was microscopically examining the tissue removed to check that all cancer cells had been removed generisk levitra pris. I was waiting to hear if more tissue needed to be removed or if all cancer cells had been excised. When called back to the examination area after my wait, I was extremely thankful to hear that all cancer cells had been removed with the initial small, thin excision and nothing further needed to be done. The nurse placed a bandage on the small area, gave me skin care instructions, scheduled a 6 week follow-up appointment, and I was on my way home. No sutures, no 2+ week wait time to hear if all of the cancer had been removed, no 5 inch scar, no lengthy recovery time. God is so good!!