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

8 comments:

CB said...

Thanks for the info and for reminding us that the risk is very real. Because of you I now wear sunscreen every day and have my moles checked every year!

CB

Anonymous said...

Tina, this is very informative. Get some sleep!!!! I see you are emailing past the bewitching hour.

Heidi

Alicia said...

Thanks Tina for this wonderful way of communicating with you as to what's going on! I hate being left in the dark and at least this way I wont be left guessing at how everything is going down there!! Love you and I am pulling for you!!

OceanDesert said...

Thanks for this info! After tx, people are especially susceptible to cancers b/c we're immune-suppressed ... I wear 30 spf every day!

KJH said...

Tina,
I am so glad to hear you are doing well after your surgery and I am also glad Todd is keeping everyone updated. I will continue to pray that all progresses well.

Love
Ken, Kathy, Kenny, and Steph

Laura Lee said...

Hi Tina, You don't even know me, or I you..but I wanted to let you know you have educated me. I'm going to make an apt. for both my husband and I to get a routine exam at a dermotologist. (we both went to HS with Todd..we are on Face Book). I want you to know that you stopped me from going to a tanning salon.. I had planned to do so for my 20 year LHS reunion in Oct. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. I really have enjoyed your blog. Laura Lee (Joe Lee is my husband).

Anonymous said...

Tina,

So glad to hear you are out and about! We think of you every day and are so proud of you.
Love, John & Jaci

Jamie Leslie said...

Hi Tina,
I am so sad that you have been going through cancer treatments and illnesses for the past several years. Your blog is helpful because I can quickly catch up on what happened and you don't have to tell me. I appreciate the effort it takes. I've been wanting to create a blog of my own to share my experience raising twins, but I have not taken the time.
You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.