Howdy y’all! August is here! It’s been awhile since I shared my experience with melanoma and since so many of you have asked, I thought I would give you just a quick update. I actually will be celebrating 4 years of being FREE & CLEAR of melanoma in September!!! Just to give you a quick backstory for those of you who don’t know…my best friend encouraged me to get my skin checked about 10 years ago. It was basically free with my insurance so I was definitely open to getting my moles checked for skin cancer. Well, little did I know a few years later I found the right dermatologist who was watching a freckle on my back…not a mole. That freckle ended up being melanoma. Clearly, I did a lot of damage to myself with tanning, tanning beds and never wearing sunscreen throughout the years, but I literally thought skin cancer only could happen to fair skinned people. Since I tanned so easy I never and I mean never thought it could happen to me…
The doctor asked me to bring my husband into our appointment to inform me that not only that I had melanoma, but he wanted me to be alive to see my son grow up. My son was not even a year old at that point. I can tell you writing this that those words still bring me to tears. I had a fear awhile after that moment that I was not going to live to see my son grow up, experience college or get married.
My husband helped me understand that I had to have a complete lifestyle change from hiding from the sun…which I’m not going to lie was definitely hard. A few examples: I used to mow the lawn in a sports bra, shorts and no sunscreen in the summer. I had to make an adjustment to wear sunscreen, pants, a hat and long sleeve shirt. Continuing onto a beach vacation…I had to realize I need to sit in the shaded area which I never did, I was always laying out by the sun prior to this experience. I slowly started finding pieces I could wear that could help me stay protected from the sun, but didn’t make me look like a grandma…you know what I’m talking about…those adorable grandma’s at the beach who are covered and smart about keeping their skin protected. I quickly fell inlove with rashguards since most have SPF built in, sunnies, hats and cover-ups, which have helped me stay protected.
For 2 straight years I experienced endless biopsies, my melanoma coming back, 4 surgeries and 4 repairs. I am thankful for this experience since it has now helped me be more cautious, protect myself and my kids from the sun…and from that moment on I started to enjoy each moment with my son and now Channing since you never know when it will be your last day. I have finally have graduated to once a year check ups. It was definitely a long time coming. Tears of joy and relief came over me since I felt that day would never come. No one every wants to hear…we want you to be alive to see your children grow up. I mean you never even think that’s a question that you wouldn’t see them grow up. Well, I’m on the right track now and it truly has been eye opening experience. My hope is that if you have never been checked, please go. It’s only once a year and it truly can save your life. One person dies of melanoma every hour and an estimated 87,110 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017. So please get checked. Again, mine looked like a freckle, not a mole.
Thanks again for all your support, comments, DM’s, kind words and even sharing your experiences with me. It means more to me than you know! I’m so thankful for each of you! Much love, Sue