Washougal, WA

On July 25th, 2018 I finally gave myself the push to go to my doctor after months of concern about a spot that I noticed on my back that had a mixed brown and black color. I had a punch biopsy to remove the spot, requiring a few stitches. A few days later, my doctor called to tell me it was Melanoma. I had just turned 32, my son was 18months old, Why me? Why now? Why the one type of skin cancer that can spread internally and kill you? People die from this cancer! I was so upset and scared. My immediate thoughts were solely on my husband, my son, my family. This can’t be happening, not now.

Fast forward to Aug 10th, my husband was right by my side-his strength and support through all of this still ceases to amaze me, but I can’t explain the gut punch when we left early that morning and I kissed my sweet son goodbye. I was so scared. I had surgery scheduled to remove a larger amount of tissue from my back and underwent a sentinel lymph node biopsy. It works like this: prior to going into surgery I was injected with a radioactive dye at my melanoma site, then a machine follows the trace of the dye which traces the first lymph nodes the cancer has spread to. It ended up in my groin area, as well as my armpit. I had lymph nodes removed in both areas during my surgery as well as the larger area of tissue on my back. I was so thankful to finally get home that evening and kiss my sweet baby boy. I was in a lot of pain and thankful the surgery was over but, I still continued to spend the next days in fear, many tears and grasping onto the little bit of hope that would cross my mind, waiting for the results.

On Aug 15th I received the call from my surgeon and dropped to my knees as she exclaimed, “It’s all clear, everything, no traces of cancer!” My surgeon and all the doctors and nurses I encountered were all truly amazing and I’m beyond thankful for their compassion, knowledge, and science behind it all.

It’s hard to explain all the ways this has affected my life and I struggle with still trying to get over things such as the fear and anxiety of not only myself but my families health. It has crushed me more than I could imagine. Online forums just add more fear and anxiety, so I tend to stay away from them, however, what has helped me is talking to friends and family- who have been amazing through this journey and incredibly supportive. They have asked questions and many have had skin checks and that makes me realize that although my experience was terrifying for me and my family, if I can help someone go get checked and find something sooner than I did and prevent someone else from going through what I did…that is what I want and need to do!

I know many people aren’t as lucky with their melanoma diagnosis, so  I want to spread awareness in honor of them as well. I haven’t been in a tanning bed since I was 21 years old and I will never ever again think a tan is any kind of healthy or makes me look “pretty.” I cover up with SPF daily and continue to take extra precautions anytime I’m outside,  with sunglasses, hats, more clothing and extra SPF. I now see a dermatologist every 3 months and will see one regularly for the rest of my life which I am happy to do!

I have had spots removed and biopsied each appt so far, and waiting for results cripples me every time.  But thankfully all results have come back clear! Early detection is key to survival when melanoma is found early, it is most likely to be cured. Don’t wait! Get checked regularly, and the second you notice something irregular see your doctor. Embrace your natural skin color, a tan and sun are not worth your life!! You only get one skin, protect it! Life can change in an instance, so enjoy each day, each moment, love harder, laugh louder and don’t sweat the small stuff. #melanoma #melanomaawareness #NaturalSkinRocks