You had to know that I’d be starting off the month of May with a topic that is very near and dear to me. May is Melanoma Awareness Month. What does that mean? It means that you are going to pay attention to every single new or changed spot on your body. If anything looks suspicious, you are going to go the dermatologist to have it looked at. Many facilities have FREE skin checks during the month of May. Take advantage of the opportunities in your area. Just do an Internet search to see what hospitals or facilities are participating in your area.
My mom had a suspicious spot on her genitals. She didn’t think much of it at first. The spot seemed to go away and then reappeared. It began to concern her. She made an appointment with her gynecologist who thought the spot looked “like something” and sent her to a surgeon to have it removed. I was with her for that first surgery in September of 2009. Several months later her general practitioner saw the pathology report from the surgery and was very alarmed. The report said that she had melanoma. She then started to see a melanoma specialist. She basically had precautionary radiation treatments since none of her lymph nodes were involved. Months later she did have lymph node involvement in several nodes in her groin. Again, they did surgery to remove the nodes and did another round of radiation. Months later she had melanoma on the outer wall of her stomach removed. This time she had intense Interferon treatments for 30 days. As the cancer spread she was now eligible for an FDA newly approved drug called Yervoy. She had to endure the side effects. The cancer eventually spread to her spleen, liver, stomach wall, pelvic wall, lungs and eventually her brain. The doctors told her after 3 years of fighting and more treatments with terrible side effects that there was nothing else they could do. She passed away peacefully on November 4th, 2012.
Why am I telling you these details?? Because I want YOU to know that melanoma is NOT something that anyone should take lightly. It is not always just a spot or mole on your skin. It can spread to every single organ in your body. There is currently no cure. There is a lot of research going on and several hopeful clinical trials for new treatments. I am always preaching to everyone to wear sunscreen. Now you know why. Until you’ve known someone who has been affected by this awful cancer, you have no real idea of what melanoma really is. I don’t want anybody else to find out the way that I did. Wear your sunscreen. Do those monthly skin checks at home. Get your skin checked by a dermatologist annually. Go in to see the doctor if you have any new or changing moles. It can save your life!! Prevention and early detection are SO important!
This weekend I will be walking in the Dallas, Texas AIM at Melanoma Walk for a Cure. This is a walk to raise awareness of Melanoma and raise funds for research. I am proud to say that my mom is one of the honorees for this year’s walk. I am adding the link to my fundraising page if you would like to make a donation.