Home Now what? The highs and lows of survivorship



4th Melanoma found after skin check

Hi everyone, so pre my bc journey I have had 3 melanoma. I had my first melanoma at 38, 2nd one at 39 and 3rd at 49. These were caught reasonably early so no further treatment but pretty big scars. I also have had about 30 odd other skin biopsies. I have both parents who have had melanoma as well as other skin cancers like SCCs and BCCs so I just got their Irish skin. It probably didn't help that I grew up in Queensland and in the 1960s there wasn't awareness of sun damage.

I had breast cancer at just before turning 58 and finished active treatment for this last year. I am currently taking tamoxifen. 

Unfortunately my recent skin check (I go every 6 months) required 4 biopsies.  I got a call today to advise i need surgery next week to remove another melanoma. I may need a bit more taken out of one of the other biopsies but I find out Monday. 

I also have 2 cysts on my head which seem to have grown a bit, particularly one on the crown of my head and it is causing a bald patch so these cysts will be removed next week too.

I am ok and I am sure all will be fine once they remove the melanoma cancer. They found it early and i have this skin check every 6 months. 

My message to everyone is to get your skin checked and slip, slop, slap. 
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Comments

  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 5,592
    BUGGER @Cath62!  That's not fair!!  Gosh, you'll look like a patchwork quilt! 

    At least all should be healed by Xmas xx. Will they need ongoing treatment? Or just excising them should be enough?

    Take care & all the best xx. Thinking of you xx
  • Cath62Cath62 Brisbane Member Posts: 520
    Thanks @arpie. I do look like a patchwork quilt now. 🙂 I just don't know any more how many stiches I have had anymore. Anyway I think given this one was found early it won't need further treatment. 
  • Julez1958Julez1958 SydneyMember Posts: 191
    Oh dear that’s a bugger!
    but hopefully you got it in time and are alert to any more.
    I must admit I remain astounded when I see young people laying on their backs at the beach sun baking their faces and bodies when I am making a quick sortie for a swim ( I always leave by 10am).
    I sometimes say “ aren’t you worried about skin cancer”? And get a look like “ who is this crazy old lady””.
    I am 63.
  • Cath62Cath62 Brisbane Member Posts: 520
    Yes @Julez1958 I am stunned too at people of all ages baking themselves in the sun. I am 59, grew up in qld in 60s when there was no knowledge of sun damage. 

    At aged 30 I got my first skin check. I was there yearly until they found a melanoma and ever since I am checked every 6 months.

    I stopped counting biopsies when they reached 30. I estimate I have had 40 skin biopsies now of which 4 have been melanoma, 2 x bcc and the balance were 50% abnormal cells or irregular moles.

    My determatologist said most sun damage happens before aged 12. I guess that happened to my body as I was born in 1962 and like all kids then we lived outside. I definitely have a genetic element to my skin but for sure the sun hasn't helped.

    They told me this latest one is early so I am glad I get checked often. It will be cut out of me on Friday 19th November. Cant wait to get rid of this malignant melanoma. Given it is early there should be no further treatment. 

    My dermatologist and oncologist are in touch over my cancer issues which is great. The brca2 gene links melanoma and breast cancer. I did get tested for the brca gene but lucky for me I don't have that.

    Thanks for your care x
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 5,592
    Yep - I grew up in Qld in the 50s - and remember my back just being one ginormous blister after one particular bad day in the sun!  Dad used to make us wear a tshirt with our swimming cossie ..... which was incredibly daggy (not that I cared!!)  Been super burnt numerous times after that - had sunstroke & was throwing up ..... I've had a few bits burnt or cut off but touch wood, no melanomas yet! 

    Good that your Dermie and Onc are in touch! take care xx
  • Cath62Cath62 Brisbane Member Posts: 520
    So shit happens. I had my surgery to remove the melanoma and had a 6/7cm scar on my right arm. My breast cancer was on the right side too. That active treatment finished in November 2020. 

    Today I learnt that the margins on that melanoma excision were not clear so now I need more surgery to take a wider excision so I clear those margins. To say I am disappointed is an understatement.

    I don't have the mutated brca 2 gene which can appear for some breast cancer melanoma patients but breast cancer does increase risk of melanoma by about 18% in aged 45 and over and I have already had 3 previous melanoma prior to bc.

    My next surgery is 19th January. Later in January I get a mammogram and ultrasound and see surgeon. I wasn't due to see the oncologist until June 2022 but I will discuss with surgeon about whether to schedule another earlier appointment as well. 

    It's all a bit frustrating and I am trying to process this and not get ahead of myself. Big breaths again.
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 5,592
    Bugger bugger bugger @Cath62 ... but - it is better to get it cleared .... I feel for you xx

    WOW I didn't know that BC increases the chance of melanoma tho!

    Shame they have to wait til January tho. :(  That'll be a big month for you xx

    Yep, deep breaths .... and take care, try not to overthink it. xx


  • FLCloverFLClover Sydney Member Posts: 1,284
    This is not the news one hopes to hear post surgery. However, between now and the re-excision, you can imagine your white and T cells killing off any leftover melanoma cells. They do not stand a chance against your immune system. You overcame this before, and this isn’t different. You’re stronger now, so you will definitely be ok. 
    Organise a nice treat for yourself for some distraction 😊💜
  • Cath62Cath62 Brisbane Member Posts: 520
    Thanks @arpie.

    Overwhelming today but I am someone who freaks out at least for a day and then I get a bit proactive etc.

    Yes there are very strong links between melanoma and breast cancer, even more for those under 45. I think the increase risk for under 45 yrs is about 38%. So it is significant. 

    It is fxxking annoying having another primary especially only a year out from active treatment.  Very fuxking pissed off and exhausted from it all. 

    So today I have made an appointment for next month with oncologist as I wasn't due till June 2022 and I also made an appointment with the GP. I want to see if I need a PET scan and I need a new referral for the oncologist too. 

     That's all I can do now so I will breathe deeply, walk, meditation and I think I will get my Xmas tree up. It always looks pretty.
  • Cath62Cath62 Brisbane Member Posts: 520
    Your right @FLClover. Good advice. I will do as you suggest and these visualisations are good.

    When I had chemo I use to imagine that the chemo was a golden light and only destroyed cancer cells and nothing else. I never got sick from chemo and while the steroids they gave me impacted my mood a bit I didn't have other side effects from it. Thanks for your support.
  • FLCloverFLClover Sydney Member Posts: 1,284
    There you go, your visualisation helped you through chemo 😊😊. The mind is a very strong tool, it either works for us or against us. You’re on the right track for sure 😀🥰
  • iserbrowniserbrown Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 4,853
    Bugger, bum, s..t, bum!  
    Sorry to read that you've been dealt an unexpected hand but as I read through your comments, the anger is still there but you are being proactive and lining up appointments and necessary paperwork
    Hope all is fine after this setback
    Take care and Best wishes
  • June1952June1952 Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 1,293
    Oh, @Cath62, that is not good news to hear.  I guess they take as little as they can to avoid too much scarring the first time.  It seems like a long wait for the next surgery but you have the happiness of the festive season to make you think of other things, hey ? Hoping all goes well the next time and that the annual tests come back clear, too.
    I like your freaking out then getting proactive.  I guess any of us who grew up before all the "sunsmart" creams and campaigns (especially those of us with fine English skin!) are at higher risk of melanoma as we age.  As long as they are caught before they do naughty growing.
    Thinking of you.  💖
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 5,592
    oh dear, @Cath62 - I had to laugh at your fxxking comments .... I think we should start a fxxking club ... god knows I've been saying it a hundred times a day over the last few days with fxxk-ups re my husband's treatment!  Some people can't organise a fxxk in a brothel!

    Well done on getting everything brought forward with your Onc xx  I also think that the wait for the 2nd surgery is excessive too - I'd be fxxking pissed off, too!!  I hope you get it done before Xmas!  It is the reasonable thing to do, specially as he didn't take enough the first time!  Fingers cross you get your wish!  XX. If you don't fxxking ask, you don't fxxking get!! ;) 

    take care xxx
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