Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I had my first outing on Monday since my surgery. Todd and I did some grocery shopping at Whole Foods. It was great to get out of the house for a bit. Tuesday, we went to my doctor's appointment and then to Fry's. Being out of the house is nice, but irritating. I can't walk fast due to the tenderness of my incisions. If I were able to wear a bra it would be better, but my left side is WAY to tender for that. Anyway, it is irritating that I can't walk real fast and people stare at me. The grocery store greeter guy asked me if I wanted one of those go-cart shopping carts. Ugh! I can't wait until I am able to walk, run and play volleyball again. Everyday gets better, but I am getting anxious.

Well, my doctor's appointment went well. It was with my Oncologist. He said that my incisions look great and my bloodwork came back normal. I am still on lifting restrictions of no more than 5lbs and no strenuous activity. I am on schedule to begin my treatment in October. I have an appointment on Tuesday, October 7th to begin. I'm nervous, but also looking forward to beginning the treatment. I'm nervous as side effects vary by person, so hopefully I will tolerate the drug as well as my doctor's expect. I'm axious to begin as the sooner I can start boosting my immune system to help my body fight and kill any cancer cells remaining in my body the better.

I have continued and will continue a better diet to help my body fight. Many of you have asked about my "diet". Well, basically I have cut out all processed foods and I am eating only organic foods. I am eating food that act as medicine in the body, such as green vegetables and have cut out foods that have a negative effect such as dairy, pasta and the vegetables and fruit that are high in sugar. To go into detail would require another post, so I'll go into detail some other time. This new way of living has been challenging, however, I am moving forward with positive thinking. I try to not think about what I can't have, but rather what I can because this "diet" is what is best for me. I am going to do what is necessary to fight my cancer and if that means giving up some foods so be it. There are more important things that I need to focus on.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Out for fun and Special Thanks

Todd and Teya will be attending a birthday party today for Alexis and Atianna (friend's of ours daughters are both turning 1). It will be good for Todd and Teya to get out today and have some fun. I wish I could go with them, but I'm just not ready yet. There is still to much pain and besides, I can't wear a bra ;) My friend Claudia is coming over to keep me company. I am looking forward to her visit.

Speaking of visitors, I wanted to say thank you to CB & Jon and Ang for coming and visiting me in the hospital. It was nice of you to visit. My family appreciated the break and I loved the company. I want to send a special thanks to CB for making me snacks & bringing me dinner! The hospital food was good, but not even close to the food you brought. You have been so supportive with my new "diet" and have given me so many delicious recipes. Thanks!

Thursday night Linda and Skyler came for a visit. Skyler made me a Get Well card. As most of you know, I love home-made cards and his was very special. It was great visiting with Linda and Teya & Skyler, of course, had a great time. The two of them are great friends and play really well together. Thanks for the visit!

Here are some pictures from my hospital room.
Before surgery

This one is the first day out of ICU.


And, these were my last day, all showered and ready to go home.

I am behind on my thank you cards, so I would like to send a quick "Thank You" to Bob and Heidi for the flowers you sent before my surgery. They were beautiful and really helped to keep me smiling. Thanks also to all of you who have brought & sent cards and flowers since my surgery. They are decorating my living room and keep my spirits high. The Sweats sent an edible fruit bouquet. What a great idea and very yummy, thanks!

Thanks everyone!

Good-bye to Mom

My mom left on a 7am flight this morning. I was extrememly sad to see her go. There just isn't anything like having your mom around to take care of you. I really couldn't have gone through the surgery and beginning of my recovery without her and my dad. The only thing that makes it easier is knowing that the cancer was removed and I am up and moving around - well on my way to recovery.

Here is a photo of my mom and Teya.

Here is one of Teya and Rick playing "snow" in our kitchen.

Here is a picture of Todd, Teya and I that my mom took last night.

My parents will be missed and we look forward to their visit in December for Christmas.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More good days

The pain is decreasing a little everyday and yesterday I spent most of the day off of the couch. I was sore later in the evening, but it felt good to be on my feet. Teya also noticed that I was doing better. When she got home from school she said "Mommy you are walking faster!". She is very observant and too darn cute! This morning, I asked her what she wanted for breakfast and she said "But you can't make it, right?". I told her I could and she said "Yea!". She is a great cheerleader.

We had a great visit with my cousin, Samantha, yesterday who just started college at ASU. She is attending the nursing school and is at the downtown Phoenix campus. She enjoyed being away from the dorm and having a home cooked meal. Her family is in Michigan, so she is overcoming her home-sickness. She is a strong gal and I think she will do great. Hopefully we will see her often. She plays volley ball, so maybe she will come and play with us sometime. She is an indoor player, but we may be able to convert her :)

Todd and my mom have continued to be great nurses/aides. My mom is learning all about organic food and how to prepare it. She is doing great. She also has found her way around Trader Joes and Whole Foods. My house is cleaner than it has probably ever been on a daily basis. Nothing but clean air and germ free surfaces around here. Not sure what we are going to do when she leaves on Saturday. She has taken care of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry and taking care of Teya and I. What a blessing it has been that she was able to be here.

My follow up appointment with my surgeon will not be for at least another week. Until then, & for hopefully only a short time after, I am limited to lifting no more than 5 lbs and no strenuous activity. Until I am off my pain meds, I am unable to drive and I am doing breathing treatments to open my lung and increase air capacity back to normal as well as to prevent pneumonia.

Next week, I have an appointment with my Oncologist on Tuesday and during that visit we will discuss my upcoming treatment, which I will begin in early October.

My recovery is going great and I look forward to being more active and beginning my treatment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A little independece

What a wonderful morning. I woke up at 6am and have been out of bed and on my feet now for 45 minutes. This is the longest I have been on my feet in a week. My body is achy from sitting and laying so much, so it has been nice to stretch out a little. I also made myself breakfast. What a great feeling to be able to do something for myself again. I appreciate all of the help I am receiving, but there is nothing like being able to get back a little independence.

Thanks for all of your prayers and well wishes. They really do help lift my spirits.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's Me and I am home

Hello All,

I am comfortably sitting on my own couch and it feels great. The only thing I miss about the hospital is the bed. Really comfortable and easy to get in and out of. But I would trade it for what I am doing now. Sitting next to Teya while she is watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I'm glad to be home and spending time with her. I really missed her and it lifts my spirits hearing her laugh. The nursing staff was great, but the one I have at home is much better. Unfortunately, my dad left first thing this morning, but my mom will be here all week and Todd will be working from home on some days. They were great while I was in the hospital and a blessing now that I am home. Even Teya has turned into quite a nurse. She helps me get up from the couch and goes on walks with me through the house.

Todd and my parents were a great visiting team. They was always someone with me and when they were there they didn't mind that I would drift off to sleep mid-sentence. I mean this literally. One second I would be talking and the next I couldn't keep my eyes open. I would then wake up about 30 minutes or so later and get back in the conversation. It was really funny, but awesome that they made me feel comfortable enough to do it. Since it is difficult to get good sleep at a hospital, it is good to get some shut eye when your body is telling you it needs it. They were my saving grace in ICU right after my surgery. After 2 1/2 hours of the most intense pain I have ever experienced, they were finally led to my room and within minutes took control to get me the pain meds I needed. I was in so much pain I couldn't speak, I could only sign to them. 10 fingers means extreme pain and I couldn't show them enough. The scale the hospital uses is 0 - 10. It was difficult not being able to speak as I was so angry that I was in so much pain for so long and that my family wasn't with me. I remember feeling relieved as soon as I heard my mom's voice. After that I was on my road to recovery.

Thanks to everyone for your well wishes. It is great to have your support. I have heard that some of you do not know how to leave a comment. If you would like to leave one, click on the word "comment" after a post. There will be a box in the upper right corner of the screen where you can write whatever you like. Then if you have a Google account you click that option, if not click Anyomous. You do not have to create an account to leave a comment. I'm not pressuring for comments; however, I hope this helps those that were sure how.

I'm now going to go read my baby girl a story and get her to bed.


Home sweet home...

Well, as Tina describes it, she had one of her worst nights last night with a ton of pain and little sleep. Now that the epidural was out, it was obvious her pain level was greatly heightened. The neighbor was quite, but TJ's pain wasn't!

So we were still waiting to hear from Dr. Goldstein. He said he would be by in the 'morning', which I guess in Doctor speak on a Saturday is "whenever he wants". Well...he did push the limit, so just as 'morning' was running out he showed up. 11:58 a.m. on the dot. After checking her out, he gave the ok to take the tubes out, and in about 15 seconds, out they were! While we were high-fiving, TJ wasn't quite as excited. As she said..."Don't start the parade yet!", as she was still in quite a bit of pain. It took a couple of hours and a nice nap, but after a bit she really started feeling better. The icing on the cake was finally being able to get underneath some water and wash her hair. After 5 days of 'sponge baths', I am sure it was nice to get the real thing...

So with the tubes were out and TJ's pain was in line, the last piece to the puzzle was to get a final chest x-ray to confirm everything was a.o.k. Finally at 6 or so, we got the word. "Get out of here!" We didn't hesitate...

With TJ finally home, no one was more happy than Teya who hadn't seen her mommy in 5 days. It was their longest time apart since before she was born! We kept Teya in the dark with the whole hospital stay...she is incredibly bright, but explaining a hospital stay like this might be a bit difficult. She is happy to have mommy home though, and I am too!

That said, I have to send thanks out to everyone who has emailed, called, or contacted us in the last few weeks. We truly do have a great group of friends/family and we really do appreciate your well wishes. Although I personally haven't been able to get back to many people yet, I do plan on getting back to you. We can't possibly express our thanks to you all for helping us though this...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Another day...

Today, some good news was Tina did get her epidural taken out, but it has caused her pain level to increase a good bit. Since she wouldn't have it at home, they wanted to see where her pain level was without it. While it seemed the last few days it wasn't really doing anything, after it was out and the last bit of medicine finally wore off...it was obvious it was doing something :) We still think the tubes are still causing a good amount of her pain, so once those are removed, we hope the pain decreases a good bit.

Oh, the 96 year old neighbor? Seems she was good last night, so Tina was able to get a good night sleep last night. The neighbor did sleep all day, so even the nurse joked that who knows about tonight!

The big thing today was we were hoping that her drainage tubes were going to be able to be pulled today, but unfortunately, it didn't happen. Dr. Goldstein came in and after checking them out, decided it would be best to keep them in for another day. He would come back in the morning and take them out, and she could go home afterwards. With the original plan we thought was going to be able to have Tina heading home on Saturday, but that is kinda up in the air. While Dr. Goldstein said she can go home afterwards, others have said that she needed 24 hours after they are removed before she could go home. Hopefully that is not the case, as we all...especially Teya...really wants her to come home!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ahhh…peace and quite! Kinda…

Well, TJ finally got moved out of ICU and into her own room. Last night, right as it seemed a move wouldn’t be happening until today and she decides to take a nap, and wham! In they come to move her. Murphy’ Law at work again.

She didn’t have any problems getting out of the bed or into the wheelchair to move, but she said it was quite painful to get back into the bed. It is tough for those of us who haven’t been through it to understand, but the tubes she has seem to be the cause of much of the pain and discomfort. She has an IV line in her hand, and IV line in her neck, and drainage tubes going directly into her chest cavity coming out her side. The IV in her neck is suppose to come out today (doctor already gave the ok) and we are crossing our fingers that the drainage tubes in her side come out today too. That is up to Dr. Goldstein…as he said it would either be today or tomorrow for that one. Once those are out, it will be much easier for her to get out and about, which is what they really want her to do.

So her room is tucked back in a corner hallway and is nice and quite, but it seems she had quite the neighbor last night. They moved a 96 year old lady into the room next to Tina’s…and well…I guess she was quite the complainer. Everything the nurses and doctors did over the night she was either screaming or yelling. I guess at 96, you are entitled to do whatever you like…but it kept poor Tina up. While Tina said she got more sleep than she did the previous night, I am sure it could have been better! Word on the street is they are going to move the lady closer to the Nurse’s station…she also like to pull her IV lines out…but I will believe it when I see it…

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Got a room for rent?

As it is now about 24 hours after the surgery, Tina seems to be doing better and better as time goes on. She is still having pain, but it is not as bad now, and the drugs are defiantly helping. She had a quite night, apart from the noise and constant in and out of doctors and nurses, and the 5am chest x-ray (seriously...do you really need to take an x-ray at 5am ?!?), but she was able to sleep a bit. She had a great overnight nurse Megan who let Tina's mom spend the night with her, and even helped her get a bed set up with extra blankets and pillows! Why can't they all be like Megan?

We did get a visit from her Surgeon Dr. Goldstein today, and he said she was doing great. The chest x-ray looked great, and he said everything else looked good to. He even said that the drainage tubes that are in her chest/lungs might be able to come out in the next day or so, which would greatly decrease the pain she is experiencing. We had a good laugh when he asked Tina to give a quick cough, and her response was "for real?". She made it through though!

He also gave the ok for TJ to get discharged from the ICU, and finally get into a room, which was awesome...but after the initial rejoicing, we got bad news. No rooms are available. So much for being a big hospital :) Our current nurse hinted that it was actually they didn't have any nurses for the rooms they have, but who knows. Hopefully we can just get her out of this dark cave soon!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Finally some rest...

Well, Tina is finally out of surgery, and resting in the ICU. It wasn't always comfortably, but at least it is now resting!

After Tina's Mother, Father and I sat in the waiting room for over 2 1/2 hours before they 'remembered' we were there(even though we told them a few times!), we finally were allowed into the ICU to see Tina, and man, was she in pain! She couldn't move, talk, or even breathe without the pain over taking her. When we got there, it seems they were very slow to administer meds to her while they were waiting for the meds from the surgery to wear off. The poor girl...the nurse said she had been there for over 45 minutes! We immediately got her to get a couple of morphine shots (as well as the epidural she was receiving), and the 3rd dose finally did the trick, she finally was at least able to at least tolerate the pain, and was able to get an hour or two of sleep. As Tina's mom said...that was why we were there...to make sure she got taken care of!

After her little nap, she was MUCH more with it, and got a bit more morphine as the pain was returning as the earlier shot wore off. Her oncologist here in Phoenix, Dr. Donovan, showed up and she even asked about eating, even though she wasn't hungry. No mistaking she was still in a ton of pain, but at least now it seems bearable...

Since ICU has a 2 person limit right now, we have been shuffling people in and out all day as she slept. She will be here for 24 hours or so before they move her to her new room. It was surprising how LOUD the ICU was! There were only a couple of people in the ICU with her, but with the way the nurses and doctors talk, laugh, etc...I don't know how anybody could sleep. It wasn't the 'library' I was expecting...

Not too long after we got to see her, Rick took off from the hospital and picked up Teya from school, and of course he spoiled her with Ice Cream and swimming afterwards. Typical Grampie...with that kind of treatment I don't think she noticed we weren't there! :) I took off a bit early to give Rick a chance to take a nap (we have all been up since 4 or so), and we are all getting kicked out at 6:30 so they can change staff. After dinner, we will again start the 2 person rotation while someone also stays home to take care of Teya. While we aren't allowed to sleep bedside, Rose is going to pull the night shift and stay overnight. Hopefully tomorrow she will have her own room early and the rules change a bit...

Anyway, so we are so happy all went well, and TJ is now cancer free! It is so tough to see her in the pain, but hopefully it gets better over time. I am sure even she would say she would make the trade any day :)

Out of surgery!

Good News! It was a long morning, but just got word from the doctor that Tina has finished surgery and he said she did awesome!

The procedure basically entailed making a small initial cut in her left side about 6 inches or so below the arm, and scoping it to see if he could visibly spot the tumor. He was not able to do so as it was buried a bit inside the lining of the lung, so he had to enlarge the opening. He was then able to cut out the small tumor, and took out a healthy margin around it of clean tissue. He was very happy with it, and said the procedure went very well...

As of now, she is currently recovering in the Intensive Care Unit so we have yet to be able to see her, but hopefully within the hour. She will stay in ICU for 24 hours or so, and then be moved to a room which will be her new home for the next 3 or 4 days...

Anyway, good news from this end. Once I talk to TJ, I will drop you all another quick update...stay tuned...


Monday, September 8, 2008


My MRI came back clean and clear! According to my doctor, I have a brain and it is healthy! I am so relieved. Thank you everyone for your prayers and positive thoughts. I can now concentrate on my surgery tomorrow. As I sign off for tonight, I am in high spirits and am ready as I can be for tomorrow. We will arrive at the hospital at 5:00am and my surgery is at 7:30am. Todd will update my blog as soon as he can regarding the surgery and how I am doing. I am looking forward to tomorrow when I wake up after surgery and know that there is no longer a tumor in my lung. What a glorious feeling that will be!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Stand Up 2 Cancer

Many of you have asked how you can help. Well, there is a new organization that has been created to find a cure for cancer. It is called Stand Up To Cancer. Some of you may have heard of or even watched the televised program that aired Friday night (9/5). This is an outstanding organization that will bring together experts from around the world to work together to find breakthroughs in cancer research.

To read more about SUTC or to make a donation, please visit their website - www.standup2cancer.org (you can click on the blog title above to be directed to the website)

Here is some information about the organization from their website:

The goal of SU2C is to raise money to fund the most promising cancer research projects and unite the best scientists who are on the verge of critical discoveries that can provide direct patient benefit in the shortest time possible. SU2C is founded on the belief that currently, in the field of cancer research there is a strong understanding of the basic science of cancer, and with the technologies available, now is the time to take that understanding to the next level by translating this knowledge to the clinic, to real advances in patient care and cancer prevention.

Stand Up To Cancer's innovative approach will bring together the best and brightest investigators from leading institutions across the country and internationally to work in collaborative, multi-disciplinary "Dream Teams" that will pursue the most promising research, accelerating the discovery of new therapies for cancer patients and/or advancing efforts in cancer prevention research. Stand Up To Cancer monies will also be used to support high-risk, high-impact, innovative cancer research proposals which are often not supported by conventional funding sources.


Friday, September 5, 2008


I had my MRI today and it went well. I wasn't fond of the small cave they put me in or the loud noises that came from within. It is funny, the lab lady tells me to relax and think of sitting on a beach. I'm not sure what beach she goes to, but the beaches I have been to have not had someone banging extremely loud on metal. I had ear plugs and pillows on each side of my head and the machine was still loud. Crazy with all our technology today that they cannot make a machine that is quiet. Anyway, I should have the results on Monday. Please pray for the results to be clean.

My parents arrive tomorrow morning and I am looking forward to spending the weeekend with them before my surgery. It is great that they will be here. It would have been difficult to go through this surgery without them. I am staying positive, but deep down I am nervous about the surgery, so it helps to have them here. Also, all of your offers to help are truly appreciated and I will let you know what we need.

So, one month after my surgery, I will begin my next round of treatment. It is called Leukine (GMCFS). Basically it is supposed to activate cells that help the immune system recognize cancer cells and then kill them. I will be injecting it myself (yep shots again) everyday for 2 weeks and then I'll have 2 weeks off for a year. I'll also be visiting my doctors for blood work and getting CT scans every 3 months and most likely frequent MRIs. I'll also continue to see my dermatologist every 4 months as reoccurances can also be on the skin.

Unfortunately, there hasn't been much progress for treating Stage 4 Melanoma, so there are not a lot of treatment options and all are basically experimental. Because of this, I have incorporated a healthly diet to help my body fight. There is a tremendous amount of information relating to proper nutrition and it's cancer fighting capabilities. I have been on my new diet for 3 weeks and it feels good to be able to do something for my body. After surgery, I will continue with a healthy diet, positive thinking and begin exercise and stress relief regiments. On another day I'll let you know about what my new diet is consisting of. Now, I need to get some sleep.


First I want to thank you for your prayers, positive thoughts and offers to help. I can't put into words how much it means to me to have your support.

I met with my surgeon (Dr. Andrew Goldstein) last week and received some good news. I passed my Pulminary Function (evaluation of how well my lungs work) with flying colors and my CT scan showed only the one tumor on my lung. That was the best news to receive. It was fantastic to hear that the cancer is not effecting the function of my lungs and that it has not spread throughout my lungs.

This past Wednesday, Todd and I went down to Tucson to meet with the Melanoma specialist (Dr. Hersh) at the Arizona Cancer Center. I didn't feel comfortable waiting until after my surgery to meet with him. I really needed to know what he thought about the surgery as well as my treatment afterwards. As we were walking up to the clinic, all I could think was "Here we go again". I was hoping that I wouldn't be seeing them again, especially so quickly. But, I am thankful that there are Melanoma experts so close to home.

While talking with Dr. Hersh, he agreed that I should have the surgery to remove the tumor, but before I do he wants me to get an MRI of my brain to ensure that there is nothing there. The two most common places Melanoma spreads is the Lungs and Brain. It is unlikely that the MRI will show anything as my PET/CT scan was clean, however, we would rather be safe than sorry.

I have the MRI tomorrow and should receive the results on Monday and then my surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, September 9th. Everything is moving fast and I am grateful for that. I will feel a lot better once this is out of my body.

For the surgery, my surgeon is hoping to be able to do the surgery with a scope (small camera). He will intially make a small incision and look to see if he can find the tumor by looking at the outside of my lung. He said there hopefully will be a bump or scar on the outside which will indicate where the tumor is. If he is unable to see anything, he will need to make a larger incision and feel my lung to determine the exact location. Once he is able to locate the tumor, he will remove that section of my lung. My surgeon said that because of my current health, that removing this portion of my lung should not impact my lifestyle. I should be able to do everything I had done prior to my surgery. I was really happy to hear that!

I will be in the hospital for about 4 days and then recuperating at home for about 3 weeks. My parents are coming into town for the surgery and then my mom will be staying through September 20th to help. Todd will update my blog while I am in the hospital.

One month after surgery I will begin my treatment. It is really late and I really need to get to bed, so I will post information tomorrow regarding the treatment.

Thanks again for the support,

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Blog

Thanks for coming to my blog. I thought about creating this for awhile and I finally decided to go ahead and do it. I liked the idea of having a place to not only provide updates, but to create a journal of my thoughts & experiences and most importantly spread awareness of Melanoma.

Most of you know that I was diagnosed with Melanoma in April of 2006. Within 2 months I had 2 surgeries and found that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes under both of my arms. At that point I had Stage 3 cancer and went through a year of chemo called Interferon, which consisted of giving myself shots 3 times a week for 11 months. The first month I went to my doctor's office everyday and received the drug through an IV. I won't go into all of the details, but luckily, I tolerated the drug very well and did not suffer to many side effects. Now that the cancer has spread to my lungs, I am Stage 4. After my surgery to remove the tumor I will undergo another year long treatment. I will go into more detail in my next post with all of my medical updates.

First I would like to provide some facts regarding Melanoma that you should be aware of:

*Skin cancer is the #1 diagnosed cancer, and the third most commonly diagnosed cancer among women 20-39 years of age.
*More than 90% of skin cancer is caused by sun and tanning bed exposure.
*Each hour, one person dies from skin cancer.
*One in 5 people will be diagnosed with it.*One in 41 men and one in 61 women will develop melanoma in their lifetime.
*The rate of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has more than doubled between 1973 and 1996.
*Melanoma is more common than any non-skin cancer among people between 25 and 29 years old.
*An estimated 7,400 deaths from melanoma and 2,200 from other skin cancers were expected in 2002 and more than 7,800 died from melanoma alone.
*The death rate from melanoma for men is almost twice that of women due to late detection
*Melanoma is now the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. here have been no significant advances in the medical treatment or survival rate in the last 30 years.
* One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
* Exposure to tanning beds before age 35 increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.
* On an average day, more than one million Americans use tanning salons.
* New high-pressure sunlamps emit doses of UVR that can be as much as 12 times that of the sun.
*In women 25-29, melanoma is the primary cause of cancer death, and in women 30-34 it is the second most common cause of cancer death.
*In the U.S. your chance of getting melanoma in 1940 was 1 in 1500. By 2004, it was 1 in 67. By 2010, scientists predict it will be 1 in 50.
*The incidence of melanoma has increased 690 percent from 1950 to 2001, and the overall mortality rate increased 165 percent during this same period.
*If caught in the earliest stages, melanoma is entirely treatable with a survival rate of nearly 100%. If untreated and allowed to spread, there is no known treatment or cure.

Doctors don't regularly screen for melanoma and patients often find their own so be sure to watch your skin. What to watch for:

A change in size, shape or color. The features of change to watch for in moles are the A, B, C, D & E of detection.

Asymmetry — Two halves of a lesion that are not the same
Border - Borders of a lesion are irregular, scalloped or vague
Color - Color varies from one area to another, including shades of tan or brown as well as black, blue, red and white
Diameter - A lesion that is greater than 6 millimeters in diameter, about the size of a pencil eraser
Evolution - Lesions that change or evolve, or is ELEVATED or raised above the skin and has a rough surface

You should also watch for the following skin changes:

A mole that bleeds
A fast-growing mole
A scaly or crusted growth on the skin
A sore that won't healA mole that itches
A place on your skin that feels rough, like sandpaper