- October 25, 2017 at 6:24 pm
First, I want to let you know that I think that I have read through a huge amount of this forums historical posts while obsessing over my initial diagnosis and trying to learn about Melanoma. I am amazed by the grace, compassion, strength, and knowledge present in the members of this forum. Thank you all for bravely sharing your journey and supporting others. It makes a world of difference!! I will share my story, just so maybe someone else obsessing can possibly find something meaninful to them.
This is likely to be a long post, so if you don't have time to read- but do have a recommendation for a derm in Houston, please fast forward to the end for my question about a dermatologist :-)
I have a family history of melanoma. My uncle passed away at the age of 26 from Melanoma in the 60's before I was born. So, honestly I don't know the details of his journey, but I did grow up aware that a mole could be life threatening due to the grief of my father for losing his brother. My dad has had a lot of basal cell cancers, and regularly has his skin checked. I have red hair (though more washed out now to blondish in my 40's), green eyes, and sun damaged skin. I have had countless sunburns and unfortunately even spent a lot of time in tanning beds in my late teens and early twenties. I feel like such an idiot that I thought (at that time) that I could just burn my way to "base tan" and look like my friends with glowing bronzed skin. I could puke now thinking about how I just didn't connect that sun damage to risky moles.
Anyway, I had a little flat freckle (sun damage -not cute freckles) on my arm just below my shoulder change dramatically. It just got a whole lot darker and seemed to grow and extra mole attached to it. The signs that were most meaningful for me were definitely change, and ugly duckling. – althought my mole also was multicolored, asymetric and starting to elevate a bit. it was only 6mm in diameter. I went to a derm that could get me in, and they shaved it off and called me with an In Situ diagnosis and transfered me to a surgical oncologist at MD Anderson. MDA disagreed with the derms pathologist and staged me at 1A. Breslow 0.30, Clark IV, Lentigo Maligna type, no ulceration, non-brisk. I was surprised that a depth 0.3 could be Clark IV, but I trust MDA and can only assume that the skin near my should must be thin.
I had my WLE 2 weeks ago, and no other melanoma found and all margins clear. I am scheduled to have my stiches out next week, and then will begin the 3 month follow up appointments rotating between MDA and my own derm. I know I am very blessed to have caught this early and to have a low risk melanoma. Of course at night when I lay awake I wonder about that Clark IV (I know it doesn't matter any more, but they still report it!), wonder about how close my mole was to my armpit (could that mean one cell could have got to a node an inch away??), wonder if I have bad genes, wonder about every mole on my body, worry that all my headaches could mean a tumor, worry about my son… you know the story. In the light of day I feel a bit more reasonable. It is odd to be told on one hand you are likely cured, but on the other hand that we will see you every 3 months for year. ~gulp… that both worries and comforts me!
Anyway, the derm I saw to just shave the mole off was just way to dismissive and quick with me. I really want someone who will take their time and answer my questions and seem to care. Someone with a medical focus, not so much push on the cosmetic part of their business would be great too. Can anyone recommend a great dermatologist in Houston for me to see outside of my visits with MDA. Med Center, Kingwood, the Woodlands, and Spring areats are all a reasonable distance for me.
Thanks for "listening" and thanks for any recommendations. I plan to try to be one of those Stage 1 members who can empathize with the newly diagnosed, and the worriers like me, so hopefully I will get to know you all by posting occassionally. You are in my prayers and so many of you have touched my heart.
- October 25, 2017 at 9:41 pm
Hi Anne! Welcome to the forum (and sorry you are here). I also go to MDA but unfortunately I live 3 hours away so my derm is local and not in Houston. Did you ask your surgical oncologist at MDA for a recommendation? I have found MDA's patient portal to be really easy to use and they are very responsive. My doc down there is Dr. Ross, awesome guy and I hope you got someone you like also…I also hope you never need him or her for anything more than an excision! ;-)
Hang in there and (I know its almost impossible) please try not to let your mind do the "what if" game, I deeply regret doing that and wasting time initially worrying about every possibility. I am now Stage IV and except for treatment days I really only think about it briefly once or twice a day or when I am posting on here, but even now I will not let myself spend too much time considering every overwhelming possibility and very much "live in the moment" as best I can.
This forum is an absolute wealth of knowledge from people who have been there, are currently there, or who simply had a close call with melanoma. Stay strong Anne, enjoy life, and please try your best not to overthink the possibilities! Sorry I couldn't help with a specific recommendation but if you ask MDA docs for one I bet they can give you some solid options.
- October 26, 2017 at 1:26 am
This message is for Anne. For some reason, the site won’t let me reply to Anne, so I’m replying to Tex, but the message is for her. Like Tex, I’m an MDA patient but live hours away, so I don’t know doctors outside of MDA. But I did want to let you know that MDA has dermatologists in addition to oncologists. I see one there named Dr. Huen and would recommend her. The dermatologists are at the melanoma clinic (entering to the left of the sign-in desk) on the 9th floor of the main building. I see Dr. Huen every 3 months as well as a local dermatologist every 3 months. Yes, I know I effectively see someone every 1.5 months, but for now, I feel better being double checked. If you prefer a doctor closer your home and work, I’d ask your oncologist for a recommendation. Send a note to him/her or her PA or NP. They should have several good options.
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