It has been 2 years since I heard the news, " You have melanoma." Time stood still. My life has been a roller coaster of emotions ever since.
It was April's Fools Day 2011 when I had my mole removed. I had done the research and I was sure that it was indeed melanoma. I had been preparing myself for weeks. I got my life insurance in place and other things. I had decided what I would do depending on how bad it was. I had called my tanning salon and told them I would not be back, EVER. I had spent HOURS upon HOURS online researching everything I could about melanoma.
I thought I was prepared to hear the words. I thought I was ready and that I could ask the right questions and that I would hear the answers, but it was all a blur.
How can you be prepared to hear that you have cancer? Melanoma has the reputation of being sneaky and spreading fast. A cancer with no cure.
I remember the doctor (dermatologist) was jet lagged from a trip back from some tropical destination. He wasn't tan though. I remember wondering if HE had skin cancer, who would remove it from him? Would he just do it himself?
I remember Kevin tensing up when the doctor said the words, "You have melanoma." I had my hand on his back. His breathing changed and he slumped down a little. I felt such a great amount of guilt at that moment. He had told me to stop tanning. He had told me I was beautiful without the tan. He tried to convince me, and I ignored and hid my tanning from him.
I remember hearing that we could pick our hospital and they gave me the info. We were going to get a call to set up an appointment for a surgical oncologist.
My head was spinning. I had met Kevin there, so we checked out and gave each other a hug. He said that everything was going to be alright. We drove home. All I could think about was, "How am I going to tell my kids, my parents..??" and "Am I going to die?" I was so scared. I cried on that drive. I had known that I had melanoma,but I did NOT know what it felt like to be told you have it.
I didn't realize how much my life was going to change.
Telling my kids was harder than I thought. I don't really even remember what I said or how I said it. I just remember the looks on their faces. The fear in their eyes. The concern. I felt like I was weak. I hated being weak in front of my kids. I had to be the strong one. I couldn't get melanoma. I didn't have time for that! I needed to be healthy and to be able to be a Mom to them. I feared leaving them and for them to see me sick.
The first time I said, "I have melanoma", was the next morning when I called into work. I thought I was okay the night before. I was being really strong, by holding it in. When I woke up in the morning, it kind of all hit me. Like a Mac truck! I couldn't stop shaking and crying. I had cancer and I had to have surgery to see if I was going to live or if I was going to die. I called into work and I told my office manager. She seemed annoyed, but whatever. I did let it get to me then, but now I just know that is the way she is. I was crying when I called and she didn't really even say anything to me that was comforting at all.
I had my family and I had my friends. That is what got me through.
I had my appointment with the surgical oncologist the next week and he explained the surgery. It was scary, but we picked a date. He said, "April 20th." I shook my head. He looked confused. I said,"Any day but the 20th. That is my daughter's 16th birthday. I can't do that to her." He said, "Ok, well then April 27th then, I don't want to wait much longer." I agreed. It was my sister and brother-in-law anniversary. It was a great day when they got married, may it would bring me some good luck.
The last 2 years, I have grown and changed a lot. I can't even remember what it was like to be the old me. I only know the Melanoma Me. It almost changed me for the worst. I have learned to not let it control me or define me. I am using my diagnosis to educate people and to change people's views on tanning.
It isn't always easy to stand up for what you believe in. I have had a lot of negativity and people that do not agree. I used to let it really get to me, but not now. I have grown some tough skin along with my pale skin. And I will never stop.