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07 November 2009

A Medical Saga ( with an OK ending, for now) [More:]The call came at 6pm last night while we were out to dinner. . .The lymph node biopsy was negative!

In early September I went to the dermatologist to get a pimple on my nose looked at, since I have had a basal cell carcinoma cut off it a few years ago. The dermatologist (actually his asst.) took a little bit of it for biopsy, and I also mentioned a spot on my shoulder. She looked at it, thought that it might also be a basal cell carcinoma or something benign, and took a sample, then gave each place a little stitch.

The following week, I go back to get the stitches out and she goes, "OMG the lab report says the thing on your shoulder is a melanoma and it's probably metastacized," at which point I went into shock. She proceeded to cut the whole thing out, along with a silver dollar sized piece of skin and then stretch the skin around it in order to stitch it up, and send it off.

A melanoma is VERY bad news, and it it's spread anywhere, stopping it is not a sure thing. So I am very upset, call my wife for a ride home (I was going to take the bus) and just fret. This was Sept 17, that I got the news.

A few days later, they called with the second biopsy results. ..yep, melanoma, intermediate thickness, not ulcerated, etc. Refer me to an olcologist in the same building with experience in these things. But could not get in for several weeks, so went ahead and went to NYC, very worried but not feeling sick at all. Had very good time in NYC, met a lot of your lovely selves, etc.

Two days after getting back, the appt. He is neutral about the prognosis but in the next few weeks, had a ct scan on my brain, a PET scan on my whole body (which is a two-hour scan to try to find "hot spots" anywhere). And a morning of MOHS surgery on my nose, which became a side show, even as painful as it was and as ugly as my nose still is.

Both scans negative for cancer activity, so then this last Tuesday, surgery to remove and biopsy the sentinel lymph node, which, after injecting some radioactive stuff in the original site and seeing where the lymph drains, which was my neck. So then I wake up with a bandage where a vampire would have bitten me, and pee blue the rest of the day, go home, and wait.

Of course I knew I should not surf the net about melanoma. The oncologist said that there was only like a 20% chance of spread, but of course I can't stay off the net about it and over the week, (really since the original news) reading everything I can about it and playing different scenarios out in my head.

Ironically pretty much said that if you have melanoma that has spread at all, you're screwed. Other sites were a tad more encouraging.

The news of all this was shared with my boss and a couple intimates at work and my best friend, and other than that, was not shared with anyone, because I really did not know what I was dealing with. I will now tell my mom and daughter this weekend, because, either way, the lymph node biopsy gives some definition to it.

So I feel very lucky, humble, and also foolish that I had this spot and the M word never even entered my consideration. I will have to go every three months to get every inch of skin looked at, and possibly other stuff, but for now, it's very good news. It could, of course change the other way in time, though.

I know that others here have dealt with cancer in their own bodies or their loved one's bodies, and I wish everyone well.

If you have gotten this far, thanks for listening. . .you are among the first outside my intimate circle to know.
Oh, what a relief that must be for you! It's in my nature to assume that things are fine. Recently I had pointed out to me that a mole on my back was weird looking (I can't usually see it), and it's definitely different from how it's looked before. Once I am able to be out in public I will make SURE I go to a derm about it. Thanks for the reminder AND for thinking of us to tell.

Whuffles for the stress from your harrowing experience!
posted by Stewriffic 07 November | 11:15
Stewie, for some reason women get melanomas more on their limbs, and men on their trunks. Also, women tend to fare better, long term, with metastacized melanomas.

But good luck with that other skin stuff. . .
posted by danf 07 November | 11:21
So glad to hear things worked out well!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 07 November | 11:23
as someone who has a long history of sun exposure skin issues, i can relate to the angst. the not knowing is awful, but when you hear the good news, a huge weight is lifted off you, as you now know well . congrats on the results so far and good luck on your future tests . i too get checked regularily and as i see it, if you catch them early , you'll be just fine . you just gotta stay positive
posted by rollick 07 November | 11:59
Oh Dan, I am so glad to hear this.
posted by essexjan 07 November | 12:48
Whew! Whew. Glad to hear this too.
posted by Specklet 07 November | 12:53
Oh, danf, so sorry to hear you went through this, but so glad to hear that a long private ordeal has a happy ending. (Well, "ending" --- I don't mean to minimize the need to be vigilant about future visits.) I'm sending you and yours happy, healing thoughts.
posted by Elsa 07 November | 13:12
So very happy to hear that you don't have cancer!
posted by TrishaLynn 07 November | 14:46
Thanks for sharing the news. Sending you best wishes for good health - my grandmother used to say, if you have your health, you have everything and I've come to see that she was right. Be well and feel good!
posted by Kangaroo 07 November | 15:26

I'm very glad that you don't have cancer. What a thing to have preying on your mind while putting on a good face to everyone.
posted by deborah 07 November | 17:42
Yay for negative! That's some scary stuff you had to go through.
posted by Obscure Reference 07 November | 18:39
danf it's wonderful to hear that everything is well and a big hug for you and your family for having to go through the agony of waiting for results.
posted by gomichild 07 November | 19:58
Glad to hear it turned out ok! That must have been really scary
posted by rmless2 08 November | 12:12
Having that sword hanging over you is no small thing for sure. The time spent waiting for answers is gruesome. Thank the dog/god/force that you're OK. There's nothing that can sum up the relief. Even when you're not thinking about it, it's still there lurking in the back of your mind just a little bit.

So glad to hear that you can breath out, and not keep holding your breath: just waiting; and that the news is GREAT!
posted by mightshould 09 November | 15:38
What a scary time! I'm glad it was negative.
posted by theora55 09 November | 23:40
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