In the three years I have been doing the awareness push via social media I have never really told my story.
It all started five years ago, I was in the Cardiac unit in the Mater after heart surgery and had been in hospital for most of the previous three months.
I had managed to get up for the first time in weeks (my motivation was having a good shave), that's when I noticed a new freckle had appeared on my neck, with everything that was going on I just forgot about it!.
Fast forward two years and I was sitting in my Cardiologists office discussing plan B a heart transplant. The very next morning whilst having a shave I caught my "freckle" with a razor and it started to bleed, I was not too concerned with the bleeding as I am on Warfarin, but two weeks later it was still bleeding and starting to raise so I went to my GP who took one look at it and said "that Beastie needs to come off" he then referred me.
After about six weeks I went back to my GP because I had not heard anything regarding the referral, he tried to phone the specialist unit to see what was happening but could not get through! So I asked him to remove the mole there and then. He said it was against his better judgement, but agreed to do it. Two weeks later the biopsy returned with the result, it was cancer and it was very deep (6.2mm)
For two days my GP and his secretary were on the phones trying to get me in to see a specialist luckily they found Miss Jones.
Two weeks later I was in Galway having a neck dissection, the PET scan I had was clear so I felt very lucky.
The surgery had added complications because my heart function at the time was only around 20% and I also have an ICD implanted (internal cardio defibrillator) that had to be switched off, Miss Jones said "it was to stop me bouncing around on the operating table" 😉 so it was a very worrying time for my family.
A few weeks after surgery I was informed that plan B was out of the window because I have to be clear of cancer five years before I can have a heart transplant so it was a bit of a double blow.
Three months later I was talking to Miss Jones and I said I wanted to raise money for melanoma I don't know what I was expecting to do, I could not really run a marathon 🙂 and she said "the best thing you could do is raise awareness" so that evening I started Melanoma awareness Ireland on social media.
The last few years were not easy my heart has a tendency to stop, but luckily my ICD gives me a jump start 🙂
I am currently three years NED and now on six monthly checks rather than three, My Cardiologist has started to get the ball rolling again and the last few weeks I have been having more tests (no results yet) I feel blessed to still be here with my family and enjoying life, and still pushing awareness here in Ireland.
All the best, Brian
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