Here is my story........
My introduction to Melanoma started in May/June 2010, reading the front page of a Saturday's Irish (Cork) Examiner.
It was the story of Garda supt Martin Dorney from Waterfall in Co. Cork.
The article went into great detail about the dark mole he had on the side of his right knee. I read with interest, as I also had a dark mole on the side of my right knee!
His story was heart breaking. His GP removed the mole, but overlooked the letter of recommendation for a wider excision. Some unfortunate behaviour by the GP followed and years later, the poor patient was terminal.
I made a mental note to say it to my GP on the next visit, which was early July, 2010. The mole was actually itchy at this stage, but I wasn't giving it any notice.
When Dr. Ger saw it, he said it had to come off. I can remember laughing at him that it had to wait - we were going to France in four weeks time. He was dead serious telling me it'll come off before I go on holidays. And he was right.
Two weeks later I was into the Melanoma clinic in Cork.
When the lovely lady doctor saw it, she called all the student docs and told them that this is exactly what they were looking for, "this is melanoma", turning to me she said "you have skin cancer". I couldn't speak!
I was instructed to come back in about 4 hours and she'd cut it out. I was dumb founded! I walked out onto the street and just stood on the footpath, numb.
I associated cancer with death, I was 36, married with 2 kids, 10 and 8. I got the fright of my life!
We were on holidays in France when Dr Ger rang me - to confirm it was cancer. I just wanted to come home.
In September I had the wider area removed. It wasn't a great time for me as my dear friend Evelyn died Sept 27th from cancer, leaving 3 kids, the youngest was 6.
Waiting on test results to see if they had got it all, was torture. But thank goodness the margins were clear.
My melanoma was 1mm, so, borderline if lymph nodes should have been removed. The decision was made to leave them. At the time, this was double Dutch to me.
I attended the melanoma clinic til Jan '15, where I was shown how to check myself correctly.
August 2015 I found a lump in my groin. The size of a pea and it was hard. I knew not to wait around. I was at my GP that morning and back to the melanoma clinic for biopsy.
The following week I was in for my results. I never have the luxury of my husband being with me, as he is self employed. But then, I think I'm probably better off - he'd go off his head sitting in a waiting room. Waiting rooms are funny places! Dr Phil is on the telly, I might look as if I'm so engrossed, but in fact I'm not taking in a single word. I could bring something to read, but the words are not sinking in and I find myself reading lines over and over again and I'm still not taking it in. I'm not the only one. I prefer to sit and close my eyes and wait... see if the wonderful nurses can pronounce my name.
10th Sept '15, it was confirmed; I had cancer in a lymph node on the right side of my groin. Sept 11th, we had our own world crash, my husband's brother died unexpectedly.
On Sept 23rd, I had all these lymph nodes removed. I was assured it was only in one lymph node and relieved that I had caught it early.
I've had two PET scans since.
November '16 I was told I had a lump in my right breast. I had to attend a different hospital to the breast clinic. Christmas week I had the biopsy.
What a horrible time of the year to be waiting on test results. I couldn't tell many, as I didn't want to ruin their Christmas. Thankfully, in Jan I was told it wasn't cancer.
I often think about how luck I am - I'm in the system, in the care of a wonderful consultant and nurses.
I didn't go on sun holidays as a child. I grew up on a farm, where we all had to help out. Everyday, all day long we were out doors - no such thing as sun screen!
I used sunbeds a few times in my 20's, but turned a rosy burnt red, rather than the golden brown tan, I desired. All sunbeds should be crushed!
Please check your moles - check your family's moles. Catching something early you have a 95% chance of survival. That sounds good to me.
Its a pity my guardian angel - the garda from Waterfall, wasn't so lucky.
Love & kisses,