My name is Laura. I am a 28-year-old female living in Boston, MA. I was diagnosed with Stage I Melanoma on June 21, 2018.
A year prior to the diagnosis, my dermatologist biopsied a severly atypical nevus that she described as pre-cancerous. She explained to me that I was now at a higher risk for developing melanoma. That hit home, and since then, I have been keeping track of my moles with photos on my phone. When comparing photos, I noticed that one of my moles on my leg had changed shape and color. I immediately made an appointment with my dermatologist. She biopsied it and a week later called to tell it was an early melanoma.
The diagnosis turned my world upside down. I am overall pretty healthy, so I never thought I'd get cancer. I especially didn't think I would get cancer so young. My doctor explained that a melanoma diagnosis before age 30 is likely due to my genetics. Melanoma does run in my family, as my aunt and cousin have both had it. My cousin was diagnosed with melanoma in situ at age 28 (the same age as me)!
I had surgery on my leg on July 6 to remove the melanoma and a lot of surrounding tissue. They took all the skin and the fat down to the muscle surrounding the tumor. Now I am sporting a 3-inch long scar. Luckily, the WLE came back with clear margins, so now I am considered NED (no evidence of disease).
An early melanoma has a good prognosis but NOT 100%! I know the melanoma may still spread and come back 1, 5, 10, 20+ years later as Stage III or Stage IV. I know my relationship with this disease will be lifelong. For now, I will be seeing my melanoma specialist every 3 months at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. I have hope that we will continue to make strides in melanoma research and treatment.
I have been very fair all my life. I thought I looked prettier with a tan, so I got a lot of sunburns as a child and teenager. I even got teased in school for being so pale or “pasty.” Some kids would call me a ghost or point out they could see my veins because my skin was so light. My sister even took me to the tanning salon in high school.
Moving forward I will be staying out of the sun as much as I can and embracing my natural skin color.
I hope by sharing my story I may help prevent or lead to an early detection of melanoma in just one other person.
Melanoma is a really scary disease. Some days I am really scared the cancer will come back, so I try to appreciate everyday now and stay in the present.