Warning - Graphic pictures - Battle Wounds of Melanoma
I'm posting these pictures to show that Melanoma is more than just having a mole removed. They aren't pretty...
So the first way to deal with melanoma is thru surgery. I've learned a lot over these last few months. I had a pencil eraser size mole on my upper right back. Typically you would have a straight cut but due to needing to stretch the back skin I had a 'keystone alignment flap' which means several cuts. Since I had just gotten back from Australia when this was removed - thought I'd go with a story of a shark attack. Then my buddy said I should go with - I was attacked by a bear.... a koala bear! ha! (Thanks Nate!)
My mole was a 4.5mm and they had to take Margins of 3-4 cm around. This is a called a Wide Local Excision - and while the photo below looks horrible it actually didn't hurt that bad. I remember the surgeon telling me I'd be left with a sizable defect... he wasn't kidding! In this surgery they also did a sentinel lymph node biopsy under the right arm pit. This involved having a radio-active substance put in near the mole site.
|Surgery 10-18 WLE|
|Slowly healing - still looking like Frankenstein|
Due to Melanoma being found in my sentinel lymph node - the next step was to do a full removal of all lymph nodes under my right arm. I read someone else describe this as something similar to gutting out a pumpkin - you get about a 6-7 inch slash under your arm and they pick out all the lymph nodes. You also get the job of having a jackson-pratt medical drain in for 2 weeks that gets cleaned out a few times a day. Looks a bit like a hand granade. You wouldn't believe how easy it was to get thru Newark airport with it! And I showed it to everyone to make sure I wasn't going to get pulled aside for extra screening. Plus I didn't want to be put in one of those machines where I had to hold my hands over my head - OUCH! I think the stitches hurt the most. The incision didn't hurt that much - mainly due to nerve damage.... oh the joys of Melanoma!
|Ugh Yuck - JP Drain out the side of my under arm|
This is the slit healing under my right arm. The 3 spots at the bottom are where the drain came out and the stitches were.
|My arm healing|
My newest battle wound - VAT's procedure. This happened March 1st where they took a wedge of my lung out for biopsy. I have been left with 3 new scars from that one. I thanked the Thoracic Surgeon for at least trying to balance out my scars that I have been accumulating on my right side :)
|The 2 spots with strips on them are where the camera and scissors went in. |
The uncovered spot is where the chest tube was in.