Surviving Skin Cancer - Every Day

Written by Kim Walker on 5/31/2019
Surviving Skin Cancer - Every Day

{warning: graphic photos}

This may be an unusual post for a marketing agency, but it's Kim' story - and this coming Sunday is "Cancer Survivor's Day" - so it just fits.

***

As a lover of the beach, I've (Kim) always known the importance of using sunscreen. So I always put it on (usually 15 or something small just to be able to check that off) before heading out to the beach.

That has all changed.

In November last year, I got irritated with a little bump and made an appointment with Northshore Dermatology in Hammond, La. I kept putting it off because I felt it was so vain and such a dumb reason to see the dermatologist. But, this little voice in my soul kept irritating me.

You can call it what you would like, but I call it God.

That tiny small, still voice kept prompting me to get it checked. Now I understand the reason. I had cancer and didn’t know it.

At the appointment, Suzanne Lancaster told me it was not anything to be concerned with. Essentially it’s an age spot. Sigh, that’s another story. But, I digress. She said she could remove it but it would likely return. I chose to ignore it.

The thing is - she noticed a different spot and said: “I’d like to biopsy this.” She asked me if I’d noticed it before, which I had not. In addition, she urged me to go ahead and do a full check while I was there.

THANK GOD FOR HER.

In that check, she found two more spots on my back to biopsy. Three biopsies in one day from an appointment I made in my own vanity - and a sweet whisper and encouragement from my creator.

Biopsy done. I went away for Thanksgiving and had no concern in the world. Nothing. I didn’t even really think about it. After Thanksgiving, I got the call. They told me I had a Basal Cell Carcinoma, and an “atypical mole” as well as a melanoma.

I was too dumb to even know what she was telling me. She said we needed to remove the melanoma. She explained what all of this meant but, still, I was too dumb to realize the magnitude of what she was saying.

MELANOMA. (I don’t recommend you Googling that, it’s scary).

A friend came over for a few minutes to drop something off and I told her about it. She was a little freaked out and I remember telling her “chill out”. Then, I Googled it.

SCARY.

Ok, game on. Let’s see what happens now.

The following week, I went in and Dr. Pate at Northshore Dermatology removed my melanoma. When they said they’d go deep and wide, they were not joking. Aggressive to say the least, BUT it saved my life from what I’ve been told.

You see, melanoma is aggressive. It grows. It spreads. It kills.

While he was doing that he saw another spot to biopsy.

To cut this short, I now wear 70 SPF DAILY. Did you see what I said… every single day. I have an app and check the UV Index all the time. Neurotically.

I now see the dermatologist every 3 months. My last check was about a month and a half ago BUT a few weeks ago I felt a spot on my back that didn’t seem normal. Long story short, I was encouraged not to wait until my next check, to come on in. So here I am again at my dermatologist. The moment she saw it she said “yep, we are going to biopsy that right now.”. I have not received the results yet.

I wait. This time the wait is different. I know where I’ve been and so, now, I have it on my mind. A lot. What will they say?

Is this what my life will be like forever now? Every little spot? Every little itch? Every change in a freckle or a mole?

I had not enough sense to know that skin cancer is powerful. I always thought it was no big deal. They just freeze or scrape it off and you move on.

No. Not accurate.

Friends, here is the moral of this story:

  1. Educate yourself.
  2. Know your skin. Get to know your body.
  3. Recognize new things and things that change.
  4. GET A SKIN CHECK. Do it.

Resources:

Signs and symptoms of skin cancer
https://www.cancercenter.com/cancer-types/skin-cancer/symptoms

Northshore Dermatology
https://northshorederm.com/

Signs of melanoma
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-and-symptoms.html

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About the Author
Kim Walker
Kim Walker