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