Thursday, June 21, 2012

Melanoma: Knowing and Not Knowing

An interesting perk of blogging, at least on Google's Blogger, is being able to see what your traffic sources are and what search terms were used. I'm finding some that thrill me. People are starting to be directed to this one, more and more, when they are looking for a particular blogger with melanoma other than me. Word must be getting out about my post that lists them. PS, if there are others, and I'm sure there are, please send the URL and I'll add to what's already there.

I'm also finding that people want to know about "knowing" and "not knowing" if they have melanoma. What follows are a few actual search terms which reflect actual feelings and people.

i have melanoma will i die I know what this person is asking and they aren't looking for a short, snippy "We will all die, so, yes, you'll die." This person is looking for hope and reassurance that melanoma won't be the reason. This person wants some compassion and is likely a new diagnosee and is scared to death as they are confronted over and over again with the hard truth that there is no cure for melanoma. Treatments are getting better, people are living longer. But not 100% are living better or longer. Far from it.

To anyone that has melanoma and wants to know will you die from it, that's one question you won't find answered online for nobody can, in all honesty, tell you that. There's a good chance you will. Even then, no one can give you any specifics. People have been known to be in remission for a few decades and it comes back with a vengeance. People have been known to face one battle after another for decades and maybe actually die with melanoma but not from melanoma. If this is your concern, the best anyone can tell you is keep your appointments, eat right, exercise, know your body and stay on top of any concerns and changes, be proactive as best as you can and be reactive when necessary. Have the best doctors you can, melanoma specialists if at all possible, and even then always be your own best advocate. You need to know what's happening with melanoma, treatment options and available clinical trials. YOU need to know. Don't expect your doctor, no matter how good he or she is, to know everything there is to know or to know what you're interested in pursuing. You're the one with melanoma, not your doctor. This is your life, your battle, and if you do die from it it will be your death, not your doctor's. Fight this so you'll have no regrets no matter what course your fight may take. And pray. Now is a really good time to get to know God if you don't already. The spiritual and physical support a relationship with God provides is vital to tackling this. So is support from others with this disease. Tap into the growing online community, particularly on Facebook and with other bloggers.

how do you get to stage 4 melanoma and not know you That's what shows up but I'm guessing there's actually an ending to that query that goes something like this "have?"  It happens. Two ways: one, a place can be ignored and left on the body for so long that by the time the person presents the place to a doctor to be removed, the melanoma has already spread beyond the regional lymph nodes, and is in the brain, stomach, liver, lungs, or in lymph nodes that are distant from the first lymph node involvement. Stage 4.  This is the person who is stage 4 from the moment of diagnosis.This is the reason it is crucial to get ALL concerns checked out, which in my book means getting them removed and pathed, early and not letting them sit there for whatever reason. The second way this can happen, be stage 4 and not know, is for there to be a cell that has broken loose and traveled either through the lymphatic system or the blood stream to vital organs. Stage 4 ALWAYS means at least one vital organ is involved, or distant lymph nodes are. A person can go from stage 1 to stage 4 quickly, in a matter of months or a few years (or less) or it can take a long time...if it ever happens. Remember what I wrote with "i have melanoma will i die." Melanoma works quietly while it does its deadly business. And people can't look at us and tell when we're in treatment, either. We look good, for the most part...may not feel good, but look great. Again, because this can happen, be stage 4 and not know, stay on top of your disease so, prayerfully and hopefully, it doesn't stay on top of you.

can you live not knowing you have melanoma Yes, you can, technically. How long though is another issue altogether. Read all of the above and if you have issues and concerns, get them checked out, get those "issues and concerns" removed and pathed...don't settle for "watching" them. Don't take the attitude that "ignorance is bliss." Ignorance is deadly when it comes to melanoma. Yes, there will be procedures, tests, cutting and stitches, healing, drainage (maybe), surgeries, treatments, waiting, tears, anger, frustration, attirude, changes of every facet of your life...IF you have melanoma...but there will also be a chance to fight for that life you love. If you don't know and refuse to find out you aren't doing yourself, or anyone you love and loves you, a favor. If you try to live not knowing AND you actually have melanoma, there's no nice way to say this, you're signing your death certificate. DON'T do that! Find out. Prepare for battle if you have it. Maybe you won't have it. Find that out too. It may be what concerns you will really be basal cell or squamous cell. Find out! It may be merkel cell carcinoma. Find out! It may be pre-cancerous or nothing. Find out! The life you save will be your own!

The long and short of this is: Melanoma that is caught and treated isn't necessarily a death sentence. Melanoma that is NOT caught NOR treated, either with surgery and/or other types of treatment, is.

Scary? You bet. Opening Pandora's Box not knowing what will jump out? Absolutely. Life changing? Yes. Melanoma is nothing to be sugar-coated. I'm stage 3b and I wish there was a way to sugar-coat it or even make it seem like less than it is. Which, is sugar-coating, I guess. Too much "sugar" isn't good for us and "sugar-coating" hides what's inside. Sugar-coated melanoma is still melanoma but deadlier because it masks the reality. We have to live in the real world and fight a real disease.

Give yourself every advantage.

Knowing and not knowing are the choices. Life and death are the results.

Choose wisely. The life and the death are yours.

Be grateful for the day and age we live in and the advances being made. Be grateful for those that have fought and opened doors that our fight has more weapons in our arsenal.

Be grateful you have a choice.