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Paula’s personal story

Paula Berge
My story is that I got a bad feeling about a mole on my upper arm that I've had my entire life. It creeped me out and I didn't know why—it didn't look much different, but sometimes it seemed a little darker.

I gathered up some round bandages and was going to begin to cover it up so I didn't have to look at it. (I realize how crazy that sounds.) Then I got a card in the mail, and it said that my clinic group hired a dermatologist. I walked from the mailbox to the phone with the card in my hand—tracked snow all over the house—and called right then and there to make an appointment.

My doctor took one look at it and immediately brought me into the surgery room and removed it in such a way as to leave it open for a future surgery. Due to my dermatologist's expertise and instinct, I was able to get full tumor information, for which I am grateful. My melanoma was a T2a tumor with a mitotic rate of 5. It was very active, and had I not had it removed, I would not be here right now to write this.

In January 2012, I had wide excision surgery to remove a large section of my upper arm, as well as a sentinel lymph node biopsy. I now have lymphedema in my foot from the surgery.

I have fair skin and red/blond hair. I never tanned and was always known as the person carrying sunscreen for everyone, including strangers. If I can get melanoma, anyone can.