I was born and raised near Galveston, Tx. The youngest of 7 kids. I am a mom to two wonderful children. I am a Nana to 4 amazing grandchildren. My first experience with skin cancer was in 2008. I went to my doctor for a mole on my back that was bothering me. Before it had always appeared brown and never caused issues. It turned pink and was hurting like no other. A blessing from God actually because when I went to the doctor he looked at it and said he wasn't worried a bit but the spot I had on my face he was concerned about. My face? The spot on my face didn't hurt. I thought surely he was crazy. Then he comes in the room with a card for someone he wants me to see. Kansas City Skin and Cancer Center. What??? As soon as I got home from that appointment I researched until I found a mole that looked like mine. Basal Cell Carcinoma. When I went for that first appointment at the dermatologist he said I think it's Basal Cell, are you familiar with that. I was. He scheduled surgery and then I started my 6 month checks.
In 2010 I wasn't able to keep up with those appointments. In 2011 I decided I needed to go back because there was an area on my nose that I had been questioning for a while. When I called to get in to see the person I had been seeing he could not see me for 4 months out but they had another lady that was going to be starting and she could see me. Another blessing from God. At first, didn't really like her. She prescribed me a chemo cream for my face that my insurance wouldn't cover. I had to call back to get them to call something else in. This took a few days but finally started using a cream. To say the least, it is not a friendly cream. When I went for my first full body check with her she said that there were about 20 "spots" she wanted to biopsy but would do them over a period of time. Said these were "different" than what I was treated for on my face. Asked if I understood that. I did. She did 2 to start. Still thought she was a little crazy because these "spots" she was worried about to me looked like freckles. I have LOTS of freckles. Next appointment for more biopsies she told me that one of the first 2 had come back Melanoma. Now, to touch on why I say seeing her was a blessing. I am a VERY "spotty" person. Have been for years. The doctor that I was seeing before never showed any concern over these "spots". I believe all things work out the way they should.
Rewind to the end of 2010. I was loosing weight. Didn't really notice till one of my sisters said something to me. She had just seen me a few weeks prior in Tx when I went for the birth of my last granddaughter. She then came to KS to see me and first thing out of her mouth was "are you loosing weight". No. So I weighed myself. Hmmm. I had lost. Everyday I got on the scale, everyday I was a pound lighter than the day before. So started lots of testing. Doctor wanted me to have abdominal and chest CT. Insurance declined the chest CT but approved the abdominal one which showed two nodules, one on each lung. I was referred to a lung doctor. She in turn ordered a chest CT which was approved. Now I go every 6 months for a chest CT to check the nodules. The last one was no change. Of course the first thing out of my mouth to the derm after she said Melanoma was about the lungs. She said it was good that I was having those done because she would have ordered a chest xray. I am scheduled for my next CT on the 31st of Jan and more biopsies on Feb 6th. I was worried the CT would be around the same time as the biopsies so it was a relief to me when they called for the appt that I would have CT results before my next round of "slice and dice". The weight loss did stop and I did put some of my weight back on. Never got an "answer" to the cause but I know it was because I needed to have those test.
Being raised in Tx, we spent lots of time at the beach. Never heard of such a thing as skin cancer when I was growing up. Got my fair share of sunburns back then. Some extremely bad ones. As I got older it was all about being tan. Laying out in my parents yard with my other sister, rubbing the baby oil on and moving with the sun as it changed positions. Moved to Ga when I was 17 but my "love" of the sun didn't change. Went to the beach there. Laid out there. Moved to Ks when I was 26. Didn't change then either. Laid out. Went to the tanning beds. Went to outdoor events. Got cooked on several occasions. One that required me to go to the doctor because the burn was so bad my skin was bleeding. Looking back....what was I thinking??? I stopped tanning years before I was ever diagnosed with skin cancer but seriously.....all I can ask myself now is what was I thinking.