It all started in 2009 with a small mole on my back which my mum noticed was changing shape. I went to the doctors who measured and told me to come back in 8 weeks to re-check as “it all looked perfectly normal”
I went back and it had grown so I was sent to a skin specialist, who again looked at it and said it didn’t look suspicious but he would take a biopsy. Biopsy came back saying it was a superficial spreading melanoma. It was removed and then i had 3 years of 3 monthly checks. Just as I got to the 3 year mark new pigment appeared on the scar. The hospital decided to remove the entire area and surrounding tissue just to be safe. It went from a 1 inch scar to a 3 inch one, but after testing came back with no cancerous cells…big sigh of relief 😌Fast forward to December 2015
I found a lump in my armpit, about the size of a 10p. I went to the doctors and was told to come back in 3 weeks if it was still there as it could be my lymph nodes and I could have been fighting off an infection.
3 weeks later I returned and was then told I would need an ultrasound. I had to wait what seems like weeks for that date to come through and when I got there she took one look at it and said she wanted to biopsy it straight away
I got the results 2 days later that it was a metastatic cancer but they didn’t have enough cells to know where it had metastesized from!
I then had to wait for ct and mri scans and weeks and weeks for the results to tell me that they could not find a primary
Having all along told me how highly unlikely it would be for it to be from the 2009 melanoma because it was only 0.6 mm thickness they were now saying it would be THAT melanoma.
March 2016 I had my axillary lymphadenectomy, the lump was now the size of a golf ball. I was told very forcefully by the cancer nurse that I would never lift my arm above my head again and to forget my recently found love of lifting weights! It’s a bloody good job I’m as stubborn as I am otherwise I might have believed her! I was back in the gym by the August albeit taking it slow but back nonetheless.
Lymph nodes were tested and it was finally confirmed that it was melanoma. I was now stage 3 after 7 years the bastard was back!
I couldn’t believe it, after my 3 years of check ups I was left to my own devices, I was never given any information about the perils of melanoma or told about the likelihood of it returning and in fact in 2014 I went ahead and had a complete back tattoo done, totally ignorant of my need to be vigilant! Yet here I am now stage 3, back in the system and having scans every 6 months, that is until 11 months later when results came back showing tumours in my liver!!!!!
Bam stage 4 just like that…….my life had turned upside down in 14 short months!
Then began the immunotherapy journey……which sadly didn’t work as well as we had hoped so by the August of 2017 I was beginning to walk down the Oral chemo tablets path. Dabrafenib and Trametinib were to become my new friends as would monthly trips to Mount Vernon on the “drug run” and the 3 monthly routine of ct and mri scans with the scanxiety that comes with them! 😔
I’m now in my 12 month of these drugs. I’ve had 2 shrinking scans and 2 stable. No new growth which is great, but I live with the constant worry about when the drugs will stop working their magic.
I am thankful for every day, I am sad that days may end sooner than I had hoped but I am determined to spread the word about how serious a cancer Melanoma is..
That “just skin cancer” was cut out, then it came back, then it was cut out again….and guess what……it came back again! Shelly x
Thank you Shelly for sharing your story and showing how emotional support is also important.