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Just diagnosed….still in shock

Forums Cutaneous Melanoma Community Just diagnosed….still in shock

  • Post
    MaryMary73
    Participant

    I am a 37 year old married woman, no kids yet but we're trying! Never spent much time in the sun other than swimming during the summer months as a kid at the neighbourhood pool. Don't go to tanning salons. I have dark hair and hazel eyes and I am fair skinned. I smoke and I am a bit overweight. I have always understood the risks of smoking and being overweight….lung cancer….heart disease….diabetes. Anyhow, I was visiting my mother about 3 weeks ago and I happened to ask her for a silly favour….I asked her to scratch my back.

    I am a 37 year old married woman, no kids yet but we're trying! Never spent much time in the sun other than swimming during the summer months as a kid at the neighbourhood pool. Don't go to tanning salons. I have dark hair and hazel eyes and I am fair skinned. I smoke and I am a bit overweight. I have always understood the risks of smoking and being overweight….lung cancer….heart disease….diabetes. Anyhow, I was visiting my mother about 3 weeks ago and I happened to ask her for a silly favour….I asked her to scratch my back. That is when she made a comment that sent me into a tailspin. "I have never seen THAT before". Hmmmm…I looked in the mirror and noticed a dark spot right in the middle of my back. Being a bit of a hypochondriac (if you can believe it!), I made my husband take a picture so I can see what it looked like. It was kind of oval…and the colour ranged from dark brown to light brow. I immediately began looking for pictures of melanoma on the Internet. Mine looked almost identical to what I was seeing on the Net. It was about 6mm in diameter. So I went to my family doctor 2 days later and asked him to take a look. He said "oh it doesn't look like anything dangerous but if it will make you sleep better, I will refer you to a dermatologist". I saw the dermatologist 5 days after that. He took one look at it and said "that looks like melanoma". I began to shake and cry. The dermatologist was a bit taken aback by my reaction. He told me to calm down and he will do a biopsy and get back to me with the results. Exactly 7 days later, I got a call from his secretary. She told me he wanted to see me that same day. I almost fainted from fear. Within 30 minutes, I was in his office. He confirmed that it is melanoma in situ and that the depth of invasion was 0.39mm on the Breslow scale/chart. He told me that whoever noticed that mole saved my life. He said the surgery is curative. I had more skin removed 2 days after that and now I am at home, recovering. It was a minor procedure done by a plastic surgeon who also confirmed it was a curative procedure. I will be seeing the dermatologist again in 6 months for a checkup. But believe me, I will be doing my own routine skin checks from now on and my husband will keep a very close eye on my back and the back of my legs.

    I honestly NEVER EVER EVER, in a billion years, thought that skin cancer was something I would ever have to worry about. Ever. But now I know better. That weird-looking mole was on my back for at least 3 years according to my husband. He said he never mentionned it to me because it always looked the same…never changed colour or size or shape.

    I am lucky. It was a very slow growing tumour. Had it been anything else, I would not be here sharing my story. I would LOVE to educate others on skin cancer, especially melanoma. It could happen to anyone and at any time. I am living proof of that.

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      washoegal
      Participant

      You were extremely lucky!  Congratulations for catching it on time, take you mom out for a wonderful celebration of life dinner.  Most of us on this site had ours grow deep instead of outward on the surface as yours appears to do. 

      See your derm regularly, never take anything for granted.  Congratulations again!

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      washoegal
      Participant

      You were extremely lucky!  Congratulations for catching it on time, take you mom out for a wonderful celebration of life dinner.  Most of us on this site had ours grow deep instead of outward on the surface as yours appears to do. 

      See your derm regularly, never take anything for granted.  Congratulations again!

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        MaryMary73
        Participant

        I am trying to come to terms with how lucky I am. That "thing" was on my back for at least a few years. I am actually now seeing a therapist who also happens to be a breast cancer survivor. Hopefully she will help me deal with all these emotions I am having. My husband and I are currently undergoing fertility treatments (since Jan 2010) which has ended in heartache (ectopic pregnancy and then miscarriage). I still have 7 embryos left. I am guessing that God didn't want me to have children before because I had a potentially life-threatening cancer growing on my back and He didn't want me to leave them orphaned.

        Does anyone know how to deal with NOT becoming obsessed over every single beauty mark and blemish on my body? I am feeling myself slowly becoming obsessed with checking my skin.

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        MaryMary73
        Participant

        I am trying to come to terms with how lucky I am. That "thing" was on my back for at least a few years. I am actually now seeing a therapist who also happens to be a breast cancer survivor. Hopefully she will help me deal with all these emotions I am having. My husband and I are currently undergoing fertility treatments (since Jan 2010) which has ended in heartache (ectopic pregnancy and then miscarriage). I still have 7 embryos left. I am guessing that God didn't want me to have children before because I had a potentially life-threatening cancer growing on my back and He didn't want me to leave them orphaned.

        Does anyone know how to deal with NOT becoming obsessed over every single beauty mark and blemish on my body? I am feeling myself slowly becoming obsessed with checking my skin.

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      MichaelFL
      Participant

      Hi and welcome to the club no one wants to be a mamber of by choice.

      The first thing you may wish to do is get a copy of your pathology report for your own records and post it here as well so someone can help you further with your diagnosis.

      Not meaning to overly concern you further but in-situ (also called in place) is stage 0 and has no depth, so based on what you have posted you are most likely stage one instead, so getting a copy of your pathology report will assist you further in your diagnosis to verify  the correctness. You may wish to verify such things on the report such as to the Breslow depth (which is the most important factor), and you may wish to check the report to verify if the lesion was ulcerated or not and possibly if there was any mitosis as well.

      As far as meleanoma goes, you did catch this very early and it its still considered a low risk lesion. Keep up the derm visits and check your entire body for "change", not just your back and the back of your legs.

      Michael- .30mm Breslow, not ulcerated with 1 mitosis and stage 1b (due to the 1 mitosis)

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      MichaelFL
      Participant

      Hi and welcome to the club no one wants to be a mamber of by choice.

      The first thing you may wish to do is get a copy of your pathology report for your own records and post it here as well so someone can help you further with your diagnosis.

      Not meaning to overly concern you further but in-situ (also called in place) is stage 0 and has no depth, so based on what you have posted you are most likely stage one instead, so getting a copy of your pathology report will assist you further in your diagnosis to verify  the correctness. You may wish to verify such things on the report such as to the Breslow depth (which is the most important factor), and you may wish to check the report to verify if the lesion was ulcerated or not and possibly if there was any mitosis as well.

      As far as meleanoma goes, you did catch this very early and it its still considered a low risk lesion. Keep up the derm visits and check your entire body for "change", not just your back and the back of your legs.

      Michael- .30mm Breslow, not ulcerated with 1 mitosis and stage 1b (due to the 1 mitosis)

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        MaryMary73
        Participant

        It is in situ because it is confined to the epidermis. It did not penetrate deeper. No ulceration. The depth was 0.39mm on the Breslow chart / scale. The dermatologist said that it is so tiny, the cure rate is 100%. The tumour was on my back, where the epidermis is thicker than on the neck or face and it was superficial spreading melanoma. The dermatologist and plastic surgeon both told me that the surgery is curative and I am lucky because it was an extremely slow growing tumour. My family doctor will get a copy of the report. I see him on Monday for a check up and to let him know that I am now in psychotherapy to help me deal with everything. I will see what he thinks.

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        MaryMary73
        Participant

        It is in situ because it is confined to the epidermis. It did not penetrate deeper. No ulceration. The depth was 0.39mm on the Breslow chart / scale. The dermatologist said that it is so tiny, the cure rate is 100%. The tumour was on my back, where the epidermis is thicker than on the neck or face and it was superficial spreading melanoma. The dermatologist and plastic surgeon both told me that the surgery is curative and I am lucky because it was an extremely slow growing tumour. My family doctor will get a copy of the report. I see him on Monday for a check up and to let him know that I am now in psychotherapy to help me deal with everything. I will see what he thinks.

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        MichaelFL
        Participant

        Where are you being seen? Based on what you have stated so far, you may wish to get a second opinion at a melanoma center of excellence.

        Clark's level 1 (stage 0) does refer to melanoma in situ which has about a 100% cure rate, but with a .39 Breslow it is most likely classified as stage one which is not the same as in situ. I am only guessing here based on what you have stated, but perhaps part of the lesion was insitu, and maybe the other part which due to having a Breslow depth is in the vertical growth phase or what they call invasive. At any rate, be it insitu or stage one, it is still low risk.

        From a highly regarded melanoma specialist:

        In situ melanoma (confined to the epidermis) is NOT assigned a thickness/depth–they are level I lesions. Thickness or Breslow depth are only assigned to primaries that are INVASIVE (into the dermis); these are usually level II lesions.

        RGP melanoma (radial growth phase) may have 2 steps, in situ and invasive. An individual with ONLY in situ melanoma has an in situ RGP of the LMM (Lentigo Maligna Melanoma) type or SSM (superficial spreading melanoma) or ALM (Acral Lentiginous Melanoma ) type, or it may be mucosal or unclassified or unknown.

        Invasive RGP melanomas are assigned depth/thickness, though they only rarely metastasize (unless VGP is also present).

        Michael

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        MichaelFL
        Participant

        Where are you being seen? Based on what you have stated so far, you may wish to get a second opinion at a melanoma center of excellence.

        Clark's level 1 (stage 0) does refer to melanoma in situ which has about a 100% cure rate, but with a .39 Breslow it is most likely classified as stage one which is not the same as in situ. I am only guessing here based on what you have stated, but perhaps part of the lesion was insitu, and maybe the other part which due to having a Breslow depth is in the vertical growth phase or what they call invasive. At any rate, be it insitu or stage one, it is still low risk.

        From a highly regarded melanoma specialist:

        In situ melanoma (confined to the epidermis) is NOT assigned a thickness/depth–they are level I lesions. Thickness or Breslow depth are only assigned to primaries that are INVASIVE (into the dermis); these are usually level II lesions.

        RGP melanoma (radial growth phase) may have 2 steps, in situ and invasive. An individual with ONLY in situ melanoma has an in situ RGP of the LMM (Lentigo Maligna Melanoma) type or SSM (superficial spreading melanoma) or ALM (Acral Lentiginous Melanoma ) type, or it may be mucosal or unclassified or unknown.

        Invasive RGP melanomas are assigned depth/thickness, though they only rarely metastasize (unless VGP is also present).

        Michael

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        DebbieH
        Participant

        Exactly right, Michael.  An in-situ has no depth assigned.  Unfortunately, we've seen doctors who tell nearly everyone that it was "cured" by the initial surgery.  Also, some people mistakenly think that "superficial" spreading melanoma means "on the surface", and don't realize it's the name for a very serious melanoma and it's the type that most of us on this board have. 

        I'm not saying this to frighten, but to clarify.  A .39 mm melanoma is not in-situ although it WAS caught very early.  Doctors need to give good clear information though, not a pat on the back. 

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        DebbieH
        Participant

        Exactly right, Michael.  An in-situ has no depth assigned.  Unfortunately, we've seen doctors who tell nearly everyone that it was "cured" by the initial surgery.  Also, some people mistakenly think that "superficial" spreading melanoma means "on the surface", and don't realize it's the name for a very serious melanoma and it's the type that most of us on this board have. 

        I'm not saying this to frighten, but to clarify.  A .39 mm melanoma is not in-situ although it WAS caught very early.  Doctors need to give good clear information though, not a pat on the back. 

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        WendyD.
        Participant

        Hello Michael, I'm new here and also to the diagnose of melanoma. I just found out December 7th 2013 that I have melanoma. I know it's been a few years since this comment was posted  but if you're still around maybe you or anyone else could help me with a few questions I have. First I will give you what my pathology report said: Malignant Melanoma, Breslow thickness 0.30mm, No Ulceration, mitotic Index per mm square 0, peripheral margins: negative, deep margin: Negative, microsatellitosis: Negative, lymphovascular Invasion: Nil, AjCC/TNM classification: pT1a NX MX. Okay with that said also my doctor told me they got all of the melanoma out during my actual biopsy. So will I have to have a WLE or SNB? I would appreciate anyone who knows to answer me. Thanks so much.

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        WendyD.
        Participant

        Hello Michael, I'm new here and also to the diagnose of melanoma. I just found out December 7th 2013 that I have melanoma. I know it's been a few years since this comment was posted  but if you're still around maybe you or anyone else could help me with a few questions I have. First I will give you what my pathology report said: Malignant Melanoma, Breslow thickness 0.30mm, No Ulceration, mitotic Index per mm square 0, peripheral margins: negative, deep margin: Negative, microsatellitosis: Negative, lymphovascular Invasion: Nil, AjCC/TNM classification: pT1a NX MX. Okay with that said also my doctor told me they got all of the melanoma out during my actual biopsy. So will I have to have a WLE or SNB? I would appreciate anyone who knows to answer me. Thanks so much.

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        WendyD.
        Participant

        Hello Michael, I'm new here and also to the diagnose of melanoma. I just found out December 7th 2013 that I have melanoma. I know it's been a few years since this comment was posted  but if you're still around maybe you or anyone else could help me with a few questions I have. First I will give you what my pathology report said: Malignant Melanoma, Breslow thickness 0.30mm, No Ulceration, mitotic Index per mm square 0, peripheral margins: negative, deep margin: Negative, microsatellitosis: Negative, lymphovascular Invasion: Nil, AjCC/TNM classification: pT1a NX MX. Okay with that said also my doctor told me they got all of the melanoma out during my actual biopsy. So will I have to have a WLE or SNB? I would appreciate anyone who knows to answer me. Thanks so much.

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