Tuesday, April 17, 2012

i am sure i have melanoma

is vanity worth it
why dont people take melanoma seriously

Search terms that led someone to this blog and they all play into each other. So often we don't take melanoma seriously for two predominant reasons, I believe: One, we don't understand what it really is, and, two, even when we do understand it, we don't think it can ever happen to us. To me. Then, when we start to realize it actually can happen to me, even if we still really don't understand what it is, we can start to wonder if our vanity is worth the risk we're taking? Is that sexy tan worth the risk, whether we get that glorious look via Sol or tanning bed? Is it better to hang on to a worrisome, ugly place on our bodies or have it removed and be...egads...scarred? Is my preconceived idea of my "beauty" and "worth" worth the risk to hang on to it at all costs? Even if the cost is my life?

The biggest question you may ever to have to ask yourself is, "Do I want to live or die?" 

See, this is for the person who is now at the place of saying, "i am sure i have melanoma."  My heart breaks for the person who plugged in that search term looking for answers, advice, and hope. If you are a person who looks in the mirror and says that, then that tells me a great deal. It tells me that you know in your gut that you have this disease, BUT you haven't gone to a doctor yet, had your worrisome place removed, and had your fears confirmed. You're hoping against hope that this all will just go away. But it isn't. It tells me you're looking for the easy answer and easy way out and are hoping to find what you're looking for on the Internet. Right now the Internet is the worst place to be looking because you'll run up against all kinds of "help" and "answers" but what you need is to get offline and get into a doctor's office.

I've been where you are. I was sure I had melanoma. I'm not going to rehash my story; it's scattered throughout this blog-site. What I want to do is tell you what to do. I know you're scared. I know. But while you're being scared, melanoma is growing and spreading. If your gut is right and if you really do have it, it's growing and must be dealt with. Again, do you want to live or die? The sooner you get this taken care of, the better your chances. The longer you wait, IF you have melanoma, the worse your chances are getting. The longer and harder the fight you are facing. I'm not going to sugarcoat this because it is not in your best interest that I do that and it's not in your family's best interest either. If you are too scared to do this on your own steam, then think of the person or people you love the most in the world and do this for them. Give your relationship a fighting chance. Choose life.

I'm going to give you the benefit of me looking back on my journey, seeing the doors that God opened, and what I learned from that.

If you are sure you have melanoma that tells me you have a mole, bump, something on your body that you've been keeping an eye on and it has been changing and has now changed to the point you're scared and you know. If this place is also bleeding at all, then you need to be seen IMMEDIATELY! I cannot stress that enough. You don't have time to wait for an appointment in two or three months.

I had an appointment to be seen by a dermatologist in late September 2008 but my awful mole started bleeding July 3rd, 2008 while I was a student at Duke. I was over two hours from home and doctor so I went to a Duke Urgent Care there in Durham. That put me in the Duke system immediately so when my results came back "melanoma" the doctor at Urgent Care had already made me an appointment with an oncologist at Duke. Because he was in the Duke system, himself, he knew that Duke has excellent melanoma specialists and made my appointment with one of them. I would NEVER have known to do that!

So, piece of advice based on this: find the nearest hospital/center to you that has melanoma specialists. If you're going to be on the Internet, this is what you need to do. Aim at Melanoma has an excellent resource to help you find the facility nearest you. Even if it means you may have to drive an hour or two or so, you're worth it and you need to go ahead and get in the system right for you. Now, does that facility have any kind of Urgent Care facility that you can go to, without an appointment, be seen, have your place removed and pathed? If you don't like that idea, the facility will have a dermatology department that has melanoma specialists on staff. Find the number for that department, you can also, probably, find their dermatologists who specialize in melanoma. Call that doctor's office, tell them what's happening and insist on being seen asap. If the person at the desk is uncooperative (and that happens) ask to speak with a nurse or PA. If you are still put off for over a couple of weeks, then get yourself to that facility's ER and get it removed. Where there's a will there's a way and I've just given you three options for getting this taken care of promptly. The bottom line here is, go ahead and take steps to get you in the right medical system from the beginning. If you do, indeed, have melanoma, then you want to be in the hands of specialists from the very beginning. That is crucial. Vital. Important to your life. I cannot stress this enough.

You are now on the road to dealing with what is on your plate. You're going to need support for the days, months, and years ahead. Plug into the melanoma community online. We're growing and you can find us on Facebook particularly. You can plug in via any of the blogs I have linked to or Melanoma Prayer Center. Don't try and do this alone and don't depend on your family and friends to provide all the support you need. Unless melanoma is part of their own journey, they won't understand your new world. You need us.

Making that statement, "i am sure i have melanoma" is kind of like the person who finally looks in the mirror and says, "i am an alcoholic." Facing the future and taking steps to correct what's going on begins with facing the present.

"i am sure i have melanoma" is being at the point of saying i am taking this seriously and vanity isn't worth it.

"i am sure i have melanoma" is the beginning of facing that question "Do I want to live or die?"

"i am sure i have melanoma" is taking the step to choose life. It will become a pale, not tanned, life. It will become a life that sees some scars. It will become a life that forces you to undergo tests and procedures you never knew existed, and maybe treatments and trials. And it will become a life that understands, in a way you never truly understood before, just how precious your life really is, how valuable you are, and that your worth is not tied up in your looks.

Making the statement, "i am sure i have melanoma" means you are alive to make that statement and take that next step.

And I am grateful.

Go with God.

Be grateful. Blessings on your journey. Amen!