My name is TJ and I am 28 years old. On November 11, 2014 (Veterans Day) I was diagnosed with Stage Ib malignant melanoma on my scalp. Needless to say, cancer was not one of the things on my radar at 28 years of age.
The story began back in March of 2014, when I decided to bleach my hair completely white. I used to dye my hair all sorts of colors as a rebellious youth, but as I got older (aka employed) it lost its appeal. However, last spring I got the crazy idea of dying my hair platinum blonde. I've always had naturally dark hair, so I never really paid attention to the small eraser-sized mole at the top of my hairline.
Once my hair was bleached, it was impossible to ignore the dime-sized black blob in the shape of a heart. I knew I should get it checked out, but just couldn't seem to find the time and kept pushing it off for weeks. After all, it wasn't bothering me and I couldn't remember if it had always looked that way and perhaps it just looked more dramatic contrasted against the white hair.
Flash forward to May 2014, I finally asked for a referral from my primary doctor to see a dermatologist regarding the "mole". But, of course I was too busy and just couldn't fit it into my schedule so I put it off even longer. Around June, I noticed what I thought was a small zit growing under the mole. I tried to pop it, but nothing came out. By October, the tiny pin-head zit had swelled to comprise 60% of the now 12 mm wide "mole". Everyone has heard of the ABCDE of melanoma, and let me tell you this one even had the XYZ. By the time I had the biopsy performed at the end of October, I already knew what I was going to hear when the results came back. Sure enough, it was nodular melanoma.
I had WLE on November 18, 2014 and while that was being done I also had 8 lymph nodes removed from near my ear and neck. All lymph nodes came back negative for cancer, thankfully. It's been almost a month since my surgery and I feel great. I've noticed lymphedema in my neck and near my cheek but I've been trying to massage it away. I could not have had a better surgeon for my surgery. He was very plastic surgery-oriented and now that it's been a month from surgery, the scarring is minimal and you would never know I had a massive stretch of skin removed from my hairline.
The last month has felt like a whirlwind. I've never felt so mortal. Even harder is trying to explain everything to friends and family, because inevitably, they all say, "But you're fine now, right?" Yes, I am fine right now. I do not know what my future holds, but I am fine right now. I try not to divulge too much information because most people don't know too much about melanoma and think it's just a matter of getting a mole removed.
This forum has been such a wonderful resource for me. I admire all the stories of others on here and appreciate the good, bad, and everything in between stories. One thing this site has taught me is that melanoma is as unique as the people it afflicts.
Thank you to everyone on here,