May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s now personal for me. I’d like to share my experience in an effort to help raise awareness around this issue.
Earlier this month, I was diagnosed with melanoma.
CANCER. It’s true what they say—this word rattles you. I’m fortunate in the sense that melanoma has a high cure rate when caught early. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still CANCER. Cancer cells have been circulating in my body, entirely unbeknownst to me. If undetected, melanoma can spread and metastasize rapidly. It’s the most aggressive and deadly skin cancer. It’s frightening.
In my case, I’d had a small dark mole on the back of my arm for years. As long as I can remember actually. Maybe my whole life. I’d had dermatologists look at it in the past and no one seemed concerned. It didn’t look like a typical melanoma. Just a flat dark mole, about the color of black coffee. It stood out to me because most of my other freckles and moles are a tan color.
I was outside playing with my son in April and just happened to look at the back of my arm. Does this look different? I wondered to myself. I thought it might’ve looked slightly darker, with maybe a tinge of red around the edges, and I thought I saw a speck of white in the center. It was such a subtle change that I thought I might just be paranoid.
But I called the dermatologist and scheduled an appointment, just to be safe. The dermatologist herself wasn’t even entirely convinced that we should do a biopsy, but we did anyway, just to be safe.
I got a call a few days later, letting me know that the pathology had come back and I had melanoma. I was shocked. Unfortunately, the biopsy didn’t remove the entire melanoma, so about 2.5 weeks later, a surgeon performed a procedure called a wide excision on my arm. My stats:
- Small 3mm mole removed for biopsy
- Even smaller 0.7mm melanoma Dx
- The result was a huge 10cm wide excision (an inch deep) in order to remove the entire melanoma and all surrounding tissue.
I’m thankful that my pathology after surgery showed clear margins. I can handle a large scar, if it means I’m cancer free.
But skin cancer is serious, friends. I’m sharing openly about my experience in an effort to raise awareness. Please be vigilant. Wear sunscreen. Do self-exams. See your dermatologist.
This experience has messed with my mind more than anything. It has caused me a lot of anxiety and fear. Fear about recurrences in the future. Fear about being more susceptible to other cancers down the road. Fear about leaving my toddler without a mother.
But, my trust is in a loving God who invites us to cast our cares on Him.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you.”-1 Peter 5:7
Isn’t it a comforting thought that none of this surprised or rattled God? He intended for me to walk this journey for some reason. And feeling such fear and panic leaves me no choice but to surrender my entire life to His control.
“Who of you by worrying, can add a single hour to your life?”-Matthew 6:27
He is holding me in the palm of His hand. And I’m so very thankful for that.