When you hear a story about someone dealing with a cancer diagnosis, there is often the inevitable (and somewhat cliché) mention of the importance of “catching it early.” I’m here to tell you that certain things become a cliché for a reason.
This past summer, my wife was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in a small area in the center of her chest. She’d long been obsessively vigilant about watching, tracking, and cataloging the perceived imperfections of her skin — a fair-skinned byproduct of freckles, moles, and a love for the sun — which would end up being the very thing that would save her.
It would have been easy for her to postpone the appointment to get a certain shape-shifting mole checked by a dermatologist. We’d been having a pretty medically-intensive summer already, as I was in the process of recovering from somewhat less-than-routine gall bladder surgery and a barrage of follow-up testing. I remember having the conversation about whether she should just call and reschedule her appointment. She could wait a few more weeks, maybe when things calm down, and then taking an afternoon to visit the dermatologist wouldn’t seem like such an incredible imposition. Thankfully, she didn’t do that.
When the pathology came back on the offending mole, it was determined that not only was it malignant melanoma, but a very fast-spreading sort. Just another couple weeks, according to the surgeon, could have made an unfathomable difference when it came to the prescribed course of treatment. As it stood, she caught it on the cusp of Stage One, so surgery to remove “clear margins” around the area was all that she would have to do for now, followed by what the surgeon jokingly described as “hopefully a long and boring relationship” between the two of them.
I’m happy to report that my wife is fine now. The cancer was removed and the four or five inch scar from her surgery has already faded considerably. As promised, she has embarked on this long and boring relationship with her surgeon, a process of six-month checkups and continued vigilance.
Many people, though, aren’t so lucky.
Around the time of my wife’s surgery, I came across the video below, sponsored by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund, a Canadian organization tasked with raising awareness of the disease. Please take a moment and watch it, share it with a few friends, and help spread the word to our tanning bed culture.
[I’ve posted the YouTube video below on my Facebook page a couple times over the last several months, but I thought it warranted a mention here, as well. It’s that important.]
For more information or tools for melanoma detection, visit here.