Tag Archive | Melanoma

♥ Imagine This…Now How Much Does Tanning Mean To You?

8:30 am: you walk into the doctor’s office to register
8:45 am: the nurse tells you it is going to be ok
9:00 am: you are put into a hospital gown
10:00 am: you are jabbed over 10 times with a needle to freeze the entire area
10:15 am: you see your doctor look at you with fear
10:16 am: you have a hole sliced into you
10:25 am: your stitched up
10:30 am: your doctor tells you can leave, they will have results in 10 days

Day 2:
8:00 am to 12:00pm: you wonder whats going to happen

Day 3:
8:00 am to 12:00pm: you wonder whats going to happen

Day 4:
8:00 am to 12:00pm: you wonder whats going to happen

Day 5:
8:00 am to 12:00pm: you wonder whats going to happen

Day 6:
8:00 am to 12:00pm: you wonder whats going to happen

Day 7:
8:00 am to 12:00pm: you wonder whats going to happen

Day 8:
8:00 am to 12:00pm: you wonder whats going to happen

Day 9:
8:00 am to 12:00pm: you wonder whats going to happen

Day 10:

8:00 am- you walk into your doctors office
8:05 am: doctor tells you she has some bad news
8:06 am: your doctor tells you you have Stage 1A Invasive Malignant Melanoma
8:07 am: You wonder how this is possible
8:08 am: Your doctor books you an appointment for the next week

Next Week:

8:00am: you are laying on the bed in the operating room–but your not going to be sleeping through this
8:05 am: doctor comes in to tell you about procedure
8:10 am: your jabbed by 25 needles to freeze the area down far enough, but you still can feel the razor blade cutting into you.  While tears are streaming down your face from the pain & fear, you carefully let the doctor know that you are NOT numb in the area where she is slicing 
8:15 am: Doctor cuts out a huge hole in you
8:25 am: doctor stitches you up
8:30 am : you get dressed
8:35 am: stitches are so tight you can’t move, every time you do it pulls the stitches
8:40 am: you sleep
1:30 pm: you wake up with a gashing pain in your abdomen
1:30 pm Monday to 1:30 pm Monday 2 weeks later, you wonder how this could have happened to you.

The rest of your life: you spend more time in hospitals and doctors offices then in your own home….every time a mole is there you are cut open and sewn back up, every time you look in the mirror you see the ugly large scar everyday. 

My Melanoma could have been prevented.


♥ Melanoma: How It Returns, Where It Spreads

Melanoma is known as “the most lethal form of skin cancer” because it accounts for 77% of all deaths from skin cancer. Melanoma can spread rapidly – and with the exception of some rare forms of skin cancer — it is the skin cancer most likely to spread to lymph nodes and internal organs. Melanoma also may recur (return after treatment).

For these reasons, everyone treated for melanoma should continue a lifetime of regular:

  • Examinations by a dermatologist
  • Self-examinations of their skin

About Recurrence
Should melanoma return, it will recur in one of these ways:

  1. Local recurrence. Melanoma that develops in or near the site where the primary melanoma was completely removed is called “local recurrence.” Recurrence is often an indication that the tumor has metastasized. Patients who have locally recurrent melanoma after the primary tumor has been removed have a low rate of survival. Local recurrence can occur months to years after surgical removal of the primary tumor.
  2. Second primary. A “second primary” is defined as a new melanoma that develops at another site on the patient’s body either simultaneously or after complete removal of the primary tumor. All patients who have had melanoma are at risk of developing a second primary. This risk increases if you have atypical moles (dysplastic nevi) or a family history of melanoma.It is vital that anyone who has had melanoma continue self-examinations and see a dermatologist for regular full-body skin examinations as often as prescribed. Early detection increases the likelihood that the second primary will be detected when it is in an early and curable stage.
  3. Recurrence at a distant site. Recurrence at a distant site is known as “metastatic melanoma,” which means the cancer has spread.

About Metastasis
Metastasis is a risk for anyone who has been treated for melanoma. However, when the primary melanoma (original tumor) is thin (less than 1 millimeter in thickness), surgical removal offers a complete cure in 95% of patients because the melanoma tends to be confined to the top layers of skin and is not likely to spread. This does not mean that you can be lax about self-examinations and checkups. Since 5% of thin melanomas are not completely cured, it is extremely important to perform regular self-examinations of your skin and lymph nodes and keep all appointments for checkups.

When your physician suspects that the melanoma may have spread, diagnostic testing will be conducted to determine if the cancer has spread and to where. Tests used to determine if melanoma has spread include blood tests, x-rays, and other imaging studies. Your dermatologist or oncologist will determine which diagnostic tests are needed.

When melanoma cells spread from the primary tumor, they first pass through the lymph channel nearest the melanoma. Once melanoma has spread to the regional lymph nodes (nodes nearest the tumor), there is a risk that the melanoma will spread to distant sites (other lymph nodes and organs). Once melanoma has spread to distant sites, it is in stage IV. Treatment in stage IV may include selective surgical excision, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy. However, the prognosis is poor, and organ failure often causes death. It is important to know that some people do survive stage IV melanoma.

In stage IV, melanoma can metastasize to organs in nearly every part of the body. However, cancer cells do not randomly shoot off in all directions. Each type of cancer (breast, pancreatic, etc.) has a strong likelihood of spreading to certain sites more often than others. The following table shows what organs melanoma is most likely to travel to once it spreads.

Organ

Likelihood of
Spreading to Organ

Skin (other areas of the skin), subcutaneous tissue and lymph nodes 50-75%
Lungs and area between the lungs 70-87%
Liver 54-77%
Brain 36-54%
Bone 23-49%
Gastrointestinal tract 26-58%
Heart 40-45%
Pancreas 38-53%
Adrenal glands 36-54%
Kidneys 35-48%
Thyroid 25-39%

 

Why Melanoma Spreads to Specific Organs
While scientists know where melanoma is most likely to spread, it is not clear why different cancers are more likely to metastasize to specific sites. Scientists have three hypotheses:

  • Cancerous cells indiscriminately colonize at any distant site, but multiply only in those sites that have appropriate cellular growth factors
  • Cancerous cells become “glued” to specific sites
  • Cancerous cells are selectively attracted to specific sites by organ-specific molecules — a process called “chemoattraction”

A study published in March 2001 analyzed breast cancer and melanoma because both cancers tend to spread to the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, and bone. Researchers found that organ-specific chemoattractive molecules called “chemokines” are released from various organs and tend to attract circulating cancer cells to metastasize to a specific site. Melanoma’s tendency of spreading to the skin correlated with the presence of a skin-specific chemokine and a high level of corresponding chemokine receptors in melanoma cells. The researchers found that the melanoma cells had many more chemokine receptors than the cells not affected by cancer.

Why Follow-up Examinations So Important
It is important for patients to know that melanoma can spread “silently,” meaning that the patient does not experience symptoms. This makes follow-up examinations vital. Be sure to perform regular self-examinations of your skin and lymph nodes as instructed and keep all dermatologic appointments for follow-up examinations.

 

 

 

 

 

♥ My Dedication

This post is dedicated to all of the Melanoma patients, victims and survivors. It’s dedicated to the family, friends and co-workers who are your cheerleaders and number one fans. It’s dedicated to the people who are taking action against cancer by raising money, baking cookies or walking 5k in the rain to raise awareness and funds.  It’s dedicated to the scientist who spends endless hours testing thousands of samples in a lab hoping for one strain of a minuscule marine sponge can cure the agony of millions. It’s dedicated to an ordinary person who buys one single t-shirt for skin cancer awareness and unknowingly educates others about an awful disease.

Melanoma, or any other cancer, is a huge hurdle that forever changes your life.  Words can’t express how much strength, courage and bravery it must take to deal with all of the physical and emotional baggage that cancer brings. You are all heroes and today is the day we recognize your battle.  So here’s to you, Melanoma victim survivor, keep the fight alive and beat Melanoma… while beating the beat, of course.


Sitting in Dr. Nash's office waiting for another mole mapping

♥ If I Only Knew Then…

October 2004

October 2008

August 2010

If I only knew then when I was 16 about Melanoma and what my future would hold… 

My scars are beautiful!  They tell a story of everything I’ve been through, and of how brave and strong I am!


Please take the time to watch the video below…it is so very important!!


 

♥ Good News

Good news…my results came back, no Melanomas.  All 3 moles were dysplastic AKA atypical (meaning the cells were changing – more prone to become Melanomas).  So thus far 26 moles removed with 12 being normal moles, 12 being dysplastic moles, and 2 being Melanoma’s.  It’s a good thing I am staying on top of them.