May is Melanoma Awareness Month
Biopsy: December 8th
Diagnosed: December 14th
Surgery: December 27th
Confirmed Stage 3: (it had spread to lymph nodes): January 7th
PET Scan: January 21st
Immunotherapy Infusions Began: February 3rd
Every four weeks for a year I get a full lab of bloodwork, a consult with my oncologist over my lab results, and an appointment immediately after that consult for an immunotherapy treatment. For my fourth, last week, my oncologist added on an ultrasound to check on my lymph nodes. At six months and twelve months, I will go through another full round of scans.
Recently, I was still able to have a vacation with the full support of my oncologist, dermatologist, and surgeon. Wearing an SPF 50 shirt, slathered in SPF 50 sun screen, wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat, I spent a week in the Virgin Islands with Karla. I spent most of my time in the shade, but I did go in the ocean, walk along the beach, etc. We enjoyed ourselves but with precautions--beach time started at 8AM and ended well before noon most days. We planted ourselves in the shade of the tree line...once the sun moved almost overhead and the shadows were disappearing, we left.
From the American Cancer Society:
"The rates of melanoma have been rising rapidly over the past few decades, but this has varied by age.
Melanoma is more than 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 2.6% (1 in 38) for whites, 0.1% (1 in a 1000) for Blacks, and 0.6% (1 in 167) in Hispanics.
Melanoma is more common in men overall, but before age 50 the rates are higher in women than in men.
The risk of melanoma increases as people age. The average age of people when it is diagnosed is 65. But melanoma is not uncommon even among those younger than 30. In fact, it's one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially young women)."