Jessica’s personal story
It's just a mole. It does look a little different but it's probably nothing. I should have it looked at. These were all the thoughts I had. I compared it to an ABCD skin cancer check sheet and it appeared to be OK. I let it go.
A few months later I noticed it changed. It was spreading and had two different colors. This time I knew to have it checked. The dermatologist said she was 96% sure it was fine but wanted to biopsy it anyway. Turns out she was wrong. It was melanoma.
They called and told me over the phone that this was very serious and that I needed to go to the surgeon right away. It was only 0.73 mm deep, was not lacerated, 2/3 on the Breslow scale, but had a mitotic rate of 5. I met with a surgeon. Then I went for a second opinion at another dermatologist. He recommended Sloan Kettering. I met with a surgical oncologist. I knew I was in The right place. We decided to do a 2.5 cm margin around the site and a sentinel node biopsy. The surgery was successful. The margin was clean. The sentinel node was free of melanoma. However, they also took out a second node that had been discolored by tattoo ink, and that lymph node had melanoma cells. I was now considered Stage III and needed to meet with an oncologist.
I wasn’t quite 36. I am healthy. I eat right. I exercise. I don't sun worship. I have two kids. How could this be happening to me? Why was this happening to me?
It took quite some time to learn how to live. How to enjoy summer. I made changes. I bought UVA shirts, organic vegetables for juicing, used zinc oxide, wore hats, avoided the sun, increased my alkalinity, no more lotions, perfumes or antiperspirants. So many changes, all in an effort to keep my body healthy and beat the 70% chance of recurrence.
I am monitored closely now. Lymph node ultrasound every three months, full body dermatologist check every four months, and a full body cat scan every six months. So much radiation just to check and make sure my cells haven't decided to get funky again while all I'm doing is trying to be so healthy. It is so counterproductive and frustrating. But at least I will know if anything changes. It is a difficult way to live, but it is my life now.