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 next battle wound.  In my 3 month check up with my dermatologist found a suspicious mole on my heel.  It was benign.  This is where it would be great if there was an easier way to check things!  I know I will hear for the rest of my life 'We'd leave it, but given your prior history'...  This took about a month to finally close up.

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.

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  1. I always try and find a positive approach to challenges like this, the only one I can think of off hand, is, well, now there is way to tell you apart from your identical twin. But seriously, the important thing is that you are here to show your scars. That's that only thing that matters, and you'll be here to show wrinkled up scars in 60 years. Love you kiddo, Aunt Geri

  2. Yep I'm trying to remain positive about it. I can't change it - so we'll just accept it and fight it! Will let you guys know when I hear more.
    Love you too!

  3. I officially feel ridiculous for complaining about my scars now. I am so proud of you and your positive attitude.

  4. Chelsea - Thanks but you can complain away on your scars! I'm so proud of you deciding to do the surgery. We can talk thru it as you get closer to it.

  5. Wow, Ern! This is just beyond words. My mouth was open the whole time. I pray that everything comes back OK!!! It has to!!!! I can only imagine everything going through your mind.

  6. Erin - I had no idea! Thanks for sharing your story and prayers to you for a full recovery!

  7. Erin,

    Thanks for posting your story. I was just told today that the mole they removed is melanoma. I am pretty scared! One thing that has nelped a bit is My faith. I also have found your strength to push through a good example of how we can stand up when we are down. I thank you for your story. Keep fighting brother...

  8. Jeff -

    Thanks for the note. Sorry to hear that you were diagnosed with this melanoma madness! I know how scary it can be... but as you're finding out there is a great support network out there. Please feel free to reach out if there are any questions you have...
    Thoughts and prayers to you!

  9. I've been following your blog and am inspired by your journey. My daughter is also battling melanoma stage IV but has chosen the natural path. Please check out her blog...www.peacelovemelanoma.com

  10. Debbie - Thanks for your note. I have been following your daughters journey as well! I can't believe how brave she was to try that black slave stuff! How scary! I do think there is a balance between modern medicine and natural path.

  11. So sorry. My father passed from white melanoma. I wish someone would post pictures of this. Everyone looks for the dark brown spots but few know that an itchy pink spot or a white raised spot can be melanoma as well. Its just as deadly as the brown mole melanoma and probably even more so as it goes undetected for so long. My fathers mole was removed and after 10 years we were told he was cancer free. HE found a lump under his arm passed in 4 months, It comes back with a vengeneance and i am from the school that believes that melanoma acts more like a virus in that it never leaves the body. Too many stories have i heard of people being cured then it comes back and dead in 3 months. ..... and yet i see people every day sun bathing.