Summer’s personal story
Being diagnosed with melanoma was a huge eye opening experience. My story is very interesting because if I was not in the right place at the right time or had not been educated by a local dermatologist I may not have survived to tell my story.
I was a 24-year-old medical student, shadowing a dermatologist. My story begins with listening to him educate patients on the ABCDE’s of melanoma and the most common places for melanoma being the back of the legs in women and on the back of men. I still remember the exact moment later that evening when I was at the gym, taking a body pump class and looked at the back of my legs in the mirror. My stomach started turning and I remember feeling diaphoretic. I knew in my gut the lesion on my leg was melanoma.
I quickly made an appointment with a dermatologist who preformed a full body skin exam and paid particularly close attention to the lesion on the back of my leg. He also looked at the lesion under dermoscopy. Although it did violate the ABCDE’s of melanoma he said the lesion didn’t look like a typical melanoma and was willing to take a picture and watch the lesion for a month. About a week later I received a call asking me to come back in because after thinking about the lesion and considering that I didn’t have anything else like it on my body that he suggested we go ahead and take a biopsy to be safe. A punch biopsy was taken and set off to the lab. A week or so following the biopsy I received the frightening call that it was malignant melanoma and was immediately scheduled for surgery.
The morning of surgery an enlarged lymph node was palpated in my groin on the same side as the lesion. Taking into consideration my age at the time of diagnosis and the location of the enlarged glands I was referred to Moffitt Cancer Center. Fear, anxiety, and tears overwhelmed my soul as I walked through Moffitt. It was suggested I either undergo a sentinel lymph node biopsy or an ultrasound for the enlarged gland. After reviewing the literature on sentinel lymph node biopsies and thin melanomas, I opted for the ultrasound. The ultrasound’s result suggested inflammation and I was instructed to keep an eye on the node and have a 3-month follow-up appointment per melanoma diagnostic protocol.
It has been a year and 7 months since my diagnosis. I have had one dysplastic nevus since my original diagnosis. I feel extremely lucky to be alive and healthy. Otherwise I am disease free having caught my melanoma in time. Since then it has been my passion to educate everyone on the ABCDE’s of melanoma and the most common locations for men and women. It has also been my goal to educate the younger generation about the dangers of tanning beds and sun burns. I am so grateful for the opportunity to speak to others about how early detection and treatment literally saved my life.
All my best, Summer Moon