This is the account of one of my besties from high school. Love you, Sam! So sorry you have to deal with this but thank you for sharing!!
“Sam, what’s on your back? What’s on your back?” My mom exclaimed as I was laying in her bed. I was home for Christmas 2013 and lazily sleeping on my Mom’s bed as she wrapped presents (great daughter, I know :). “I don’t know Mom!” I said. She was looking at a cluster of moles on my back that were peeking through a tank top that had ridden up.
“I want you to go get that checked out” – said my mother, who has been working as the head of billing at a dermatologist for almost 20 years. “Fine, if it gets you off my back … literally.”
I went in and went through the standard mole check procedure and flew back to Chicago with an exciting outlook on 2014. On January 3rd, my father called my cell phone at work – which scared me half to death. I picked up assuming something had happened to someone in my family. “Sam? Are you there?” he echoed. “Yea, Dad is everything ok?” “Everything will be fine … but you know that mole they looked at on your back a few days ago? It turns out it’s Melanoma, you have to come home and get it taken care of.”
Everything else that day was a blur as I blubbered my way through my Boss’s office and immediately exited. The cluster of moles, so perfectly centered on my back, was melanoma. Well, more directly, one was an in-situ melanoma, one had risky margins and one had no risk. I went back to Lancaster, PA so the doctor from my mom’s office (and someone I had known since I was about 12) could cut into my back. 28 stitches later and the margins were removed. I went through the motions of learning how to apply lotion and change my bandage by myself (the center of your back is a hard place to reach!). During a checkup at my dermatologist in Chicago, they ran further tests on that second mole – and had to remove it and the margins as well. This was less intensive, only about five stitches.
Since then, I’ve been on the three-month check-up routine. Heading into the dermatologist office, stripping naked under those paper thin hospital gowns and being examined for new moles and mole growth. And every single time, I just want to cry – it never gets easier to deal with the fact that this is the situation I am in and these checks will forever be a part of my life. It is a shock to have to really think about the fragile mortality of your own life. To have your relationship with Jesus tested. To all of a sudden becoming passionate over the education of wearing sunscreen. To having some pretty serious perspective shifts on what is important in life.
Don’t get me wrong … knowing many people who have been diagnosed with melanoma, I KNOW I’m lucky. It’s a GOOD thing, I know I have this … it’s a GOOD thing I wore a tank top that day, It’s a GOOD thing my mom took a job at a dermatologist nearly 20 years ago. Because I know, I can make the best possible choices for a healthy future.
But the fear is always present, and at times before my check-up, it’s downright crippling. Even as an enthusiastic, Jesus-loving Christian, it is a challenge to find a sense of peace prior to my check-ups. It’s something I have to make a conscious effort to work on. And I guess I just want to say to anyone else out there that feels that way, that can relate to these thoughts that I love you all and that you aren’t alone. There’s a God (and an awesome group of people!) that cares about what you’re going through.
Just felt compelled to share some encouragement to everyone out there affected by this …
Peace and Blessings,