Monday, May 4, 2015

May the fourth...

I have never been much of a Star Wars fan but my boys sure are so I couldn't pass this up... May the fourth be with you! 
Once again it is Monday but it isn't any ordinary Monday. It's Melanoma Monday! Melanoma Monday is a day to raise awareness about melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Melanoma Monday is special to me because , as many of you know, I am a melanoma survivor.
Black is the ribbon color for melanoma
 I was diagnosed with melanoma in December 2012 (you can read some of the journey after diagnosis here). On January 2, 2013 I had surgery to remove the affected area on the top of my ear, reconstruction of my ear, and had sentinel nodes removed in my neck to make sure the cancer hadn't spread. It was a journey that I never imagined I would ever be taking-  Moving forward and getting back on track were definitely interesting! It is crazy to think back over the past few years and how far I have come since those first weeks/months after surgery. It was really scary and honestly still is!
It has been a while since I have done an update so here goes...
I am definitely less self-conscious and am back to wearing my hair up most of the time without really thinking much about doing it. I do have to admit that there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about and look at my ear in the mirror though. I am also anxious about every little ache and pain or funny freckle/mole and my first thoughts go to "what if it is back" or "what if it has spread". Once I have that initial thought then I think rationally and think through what I did to be sore or whatever the case may be or I am able to ask about it at one of my follow up appointments. I am not sure that type of worry will ever get better or go away completely. 
I no longer worry about what people think/say and honestly I think I was over-reacting about how much people would notice. At the time though it felt so obvious to me! Truth is there have only been a few people that have ever commented about it.  My ear/neck are a lot less sensitive. Recently I had to use headphones while at work and that was still uncomfortable and I kept having to move the one on my right ear so it wouldn't put so much pressure on my ear. My ear isn't very flexible anymore and doesn't bend like normal. I also find that I am uncomfortable holding the phone to my right ear- it doesn't really hurt- it just isn't comfortable the way it hits and hurts if I push the phone into my ear. Not being able to push the phone into my ear makes it harder to hear as well. I have adapted and just avoid all of this and always put the phone to my left ear. There is still a very small area around the scar on my neck that feels "different". It isn't really numb but doesn't feel normal yet. Overall, things are looking good. I continue with regular follow up appointments and all of my providers have been very happy with everything!
I am lucky and very blessed to have had such wonderful care and support through the past few years!

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