Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chapter 1 - The Prehistory of my Melanoma Life

As I write, excuse me for being detailed. When I read other peoples stories, and they leave out bits, it drives me batty!! So you will have to just bear the details for the benefit of those that share my need for the nitty gritty.

My story............so far.

I have known to watch out for the sun since I was 12, when my uncle was diagnosed with Melanoma, Stage 3. We were told it was hereditary.  My mom credits her brother with saving her life, since 2 years later she found out she had a melanoma, Stage 2. If it wasn't for her brother, she wouldn't have known to look. She was so scared, so upset. But as a kid, you just don't think your mom could die. There wasn't a question about it, a sure thing. Thankfully my innocent optimism was valid, and she is still here with me today. But now I know more, now I know she was one of the "luckier" ones. Since her first, she has had a total of 4 so far.

My mom's sister has also had melanoma. 5 Times! Plus she has had a related genetic disease called neurofibromatosis, better known as internal Elephant man disease. My uncle had this as well.  And I found out just recently that my Grandpa had melanoma, that's where his lung cancer came from. And my Grandpa's brother died of melanoma as well. WOW! Are we genetically programmed or what!! Starting with my Grandpa, that's one parent, his brother, 3 out of 6 of his children to get it (so far), and me, the only surviving child of those 3 children. Holy Genetic Jackpot!

My Uncle battled for 12 years before he lost.  I remember sitting there in the hospital with him, just hours before he died. His breath was labored.  "It" had made its way to his brain and lungs. He was a big burly man. But now he lay in this hospital bed, hardly able to move. I looked into his eyes, holding his hand, trying to give him all the comfort I could, attempting to share the peace within my own eyes. I hope he felt it. I hope I gave him somewhere good to be in those last hours.

Eventhough melanoma came so close in our lives, I didn't really fear it, respect it as much as I should have. I mean, I wore sunscreen, got checked by the Dr. once a year, stayed out of the sun for the most part and such, but I knew that if you caught it early you were ok!! 95% survival rate if you catch it on time. Just keep your eyes out and it will be fine. No worries right. Well, last year I found out that's not entirely true. That's a false sense of security.

You see, melanoma is a tricky sucker.  The melanoma research community is full of those that were stage 1, with good odds, 95%!! who are now stage 3 or 4.  Seems like most skip stage 2 altogether. Even my one Dr. said, he wouldn't tell me what my chances are.  He tells some people they will be fine, and then they're not. He tells others, "Go arrange your affairs", and they keep living. So there are no guarantees with this beast. It is unpredictable. The Doctors don't even really understand it yet. Now that puts a little fear in your head, uncertainty. Do not underestimate the power of uncertainty, it can really send you for a loop!  And now that I'm in the loop, I'm getting a little dizzy. Is this ride over yet?

Here ends Chapter 1, the prehistory, round one is up next!

Me at age 12, when I first heard the word, "melanoma".

1 comment:

  1. This is the reason why I'm scared about a couple of moles I have, that I will check this saturday.
    Small, but size and early diagnosis have no value when talking about melanomas.