Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Self-Diagnosis a la WebMD

As I’ve mentioned before, I used to hate going to the doctor.  Hated it.  I knew if I was sick or had an infection of some sort they would just put me on antibiotics.  And most of the time those antibiotics would make me throw up. I only went if I felt that I actually needed those silly antibiotics – of course after doing my “home remedies” that obviously didn’t work out so well.

One time ( band camp - just kidding) I had woken up and my eyes were sore.  I thought nothing of it because hello - I had just woke up!   I just went on with the day.  The next day, they were even more sore.  It straight up hurt to blink.  To BLINK, people!  I thought it would be a great idea to check out WebMD.  Holy shit, my eyeballs are swollen and they are going to swell so much it’s going to cut off circulation to the cornea and I am going to go effing BLIND in a matter of hours!  Needless to say, I made an appointment.  There were no home remedies that could help my peepers.  Not to worry, I was just stressed and it was a symptom of my ulcerative colitis.  Didn’t know that, did you?  Neither did I.  It can aggravate a whole bunch of crap.  Damn intestines… 
The fun thing with Melanoma and WebMD is that every little thing could be *gasp* cancer!   I’ve been trying to stay away from it and just let a doctor actually check me out before I lose sleep on headaches, belly issues and every slight little twinge of pain.   
I had to share this comic because it's SO much more true than it's ever been....and it's hilarious. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Admiration Graduation

I’ve liked a couple of Melanoma pages and I see their updates on Facebook or the blogs that I read.  Although I don’t go on Facebook as much as I used to, it seems there are daily updates from these select few individuals that I like hearing from.  I don’t know them.  I’ve never met them.  I had never “formally” introduced myself from one computer to another.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t relate with them. I absolutely love seeing what they have to say and it fills me with happiness that exudes from my belly that they’re sharing their story and pushing awareness like they’re trying to make money.  They attach links from researchers on the next big drug that help Melanoma patients.  They attach links on recent legislation on tanning beds.  They include whatever their little hearts feel necessary to share…and I completely dig it.  My little heart just likes sharing these random ass thoughts racing through my mind.  I’ve got to get them out, sorry you peeps are ones that deal with it. 

I’ve wanted to message to them, but I was nervous that I would appear like more like someone trying to promote their own blog than a complete supporter who is just trying to connect with other Club members that I respect. I’m sure they get tons of messages from people, I didn’t want to bother them with another one from lil ol’ me. 

Well, Tuesday I decided to extend a hand and introduce myself to a few of the people that I’ve been quietly following in the shadows.  I’ve graduated from silent stalker to a known admirer and fellow “molemate”.  My parole officer will be happy about that (I’m kidding, I don’t have a P.O.…or do I???).  This makes me super stoked.  Facebook is awesome like that.  It allows you to connect and chat with people that you’d probably never meet in your everyday life.  I guess that’s also the idea with eHarmony, or any dating site, though I’ve never been on them and never intend to.

Out of the three people I sent messages to, I got a response back from all of them yesterday. All of them…in the same day.  I totally cried.  The hubs was looking at me like I just read about a death or something and I tried to explain that I sort of “know” these people in a strange way.  These are Melanoma warriors that I look up to.  I’ve read their inner thoughts and now they’re reading mine. I woke up super early this morning and while lying there I thought about each of them, smiling at 4am like a disturbed insomniac. I’m still smiling, so very thankful that I finally mustered up the courage to say “hello”!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Professional MelanomaHolic

This Friday marks 10 weeks since surgery.  This Thursday it’s been 16 weeks since diagnosis and 17 weeks since I had the original biopsy.  I’m sure all of us Club Melanoma members can relate with very similar feelings: being preoccupied with damn near everything Melanoma related.  Will it ever go away?  I have no freaking clue…but I highly doubt it.  I stare at people’s skin.  I want to lecture people that are uber tan.  I want to high five people putting on sun block.  I want to bear hug then high five parents slathering sun block on their children.  This is just who I am now. 

Recently I’ve had to physically hold myself back from going up to not one, but TWO chicks that had large moles.  The first one I saw a younger girl, probably 16 years old, she had a fairly large mole on the back of her thigh – definitely larger than the eraser tip on a pencil.  The second one was a woman in Trader Joe's and she had one on the back of her left calve, also pretty big.  I really don’t want to be the weirdo that walks up saying “Can I take a closer look at that?”  I know they would look at me like I am the crazy person that I am and I’d have to go into a spiel of why I acted on the urge to ask them about their mole.  Then I’d say, “Don’t worry, I’m a professional Melanomaholic, I am here to help.”  Again, I’d get the crazy look.  I can see it now.  Have I mentioned I’m sorta psychic?  Maybe I should spell it: psorta psychic or more often than not: psorta psycho. 

My friends used to joke around that if someone would pass by with a general “Hi, how are ya?” I would fill that random person in with my life story within about 5 minutes, complete with my zodiac sign.  Other times I am a little timid and would rather stick to whatever I came to do – whether it be pick out the apples I planned on buying or renting that movie at Blockbuster (yes, I’m one of the 10 people in America that still go there).  I can absolutely be an overly outgoing person and I don’t mind striking up a conversation with someone I’ve never met.  If I have a question, I typically want to have to it answered and I would rather ask than be curious about it for the rest of the day (or until I see a shiny penny and get distracted). 

I’m curious about a couple of things:

1) What would you do if someone approached you basically saying that something looked wrong and you should seriously think about getting it checked out by a physician?  Would you be upset with the fact that someone actually came up to you and pointed out something that you haven’t even noticed yourself about your own body, or maybe you have noticed it but have just thought of it as a flaw – a flaw that someone you don’t know just bluntly asked you about?  Or would you be grateful because you’re obviously unaware of something that other people are noticing?

2) Have you ever approached a complete stranger yourself about a health concern?  How did that person react?

Any thoughts would be nice because I am pulled in two directions - leave them be or educate them.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Celebrity Skin

When Celebrities speak, people listen.  Regardless if it’s crazy rants a’la Mel Gibson or if it’s glimpses into their private lives via Twitter.  They have a lot riding on what they say or don’t say and what they do or don’t do.  Some celebrities like to stay private with their personal matters, some choose to go public because - come on, in all reality it will more than likely end up public at one point or another. One recent announcement was that Angelia Jolie decided to pursue a double mastectomy solely based on preventative measures to avoid breast cancer.  I personally think it was amazing that she told her story; I hope that it can help other women faced with the same decision.

Another recent public announcement was from Steve Perry – the former front man of Journey.  He had a mole removed on his face that he's had for years and it came back as Melanoma.  He just came out last week, and I am so glad he did.  Although, I don’t think it would be an easy task attempting to hide it because the scar on his face is fairly large and visually unavoidable at the moment, but it’s out in the open.  Here are a few other club members that opened up their story to the public and some are doing (or did) huge things with that news. 

Troy Aikman had a positive mole on his shoulder and hasn’t had any issues at all.  It was caught super early, as in insitu - just in the first layer of skin, and calls himself “fortunate”…because he is. 

Dino De Laurentiis, brother of Chef Giada De Laurentiis, was diagnosed at age 29 and passed within a short 9 months.  Giada is using her celebrity voice and has done a PSA on Melanoma.

Bob Marley, I’ve mentioned him before, the disease metastasized and spread to his brain which lead to his passing in 1981 at the age of 36.

Senator John McCain has had a few positive moles removed from his body and subsequently underwent the surgery to remove ALL of the lymph nodes in neck region from a positive biopsy on his temple.  That particular surgery left him with his left cheek being ‘puffier’ than his right.  He’s joked that he "has more scars than Frankenstein”.   

Burgess Meredith played Mickey in “Rocky” and the lively father of Jack Lemmon in “Grumpy Old Men”.  He passed in 1997 from complications from Melanoma and Alzheimer's.

Maureen Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s daughter, passed in 2001 also after it spread to her brain during her 5 year battle. 

Cybill Shepherd had a scaly patch removed from her back in 2002 and has not had any further complications from diagnosis.

Shonda Shilling, Kurt Shilling’s spouse, was diagnosed and started the SHADE Foundation of America.  This foundation helps educate children and even assists with putting up shaded areas in school and park playgrounds.
All of these celebrities have made their diagnosis known.  We've got famous people in our "Melanoma Roar"!  When a celebrity is diagnosed with something that people don't know about, it tends to perk up curiosity and peeps look it up to find out what the heck it is.  With Melanoma, you wouldn't know much about it unless you, a family member or friend was diagnosed. It just doesn't have the same "word power" as other cancers...and of course, it's just skin cancer. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Scar-y Spice

Luckily it’s starting to get warm because I want my scars to be seen.  I don’t know if that’s normal - you’d think that most people that have surgery or anything else that leaves them with scars wants them covered.  Not me.  I guess I am weird like that.  As soon as the tape was off I wanted them out in the open.  I don’t do it too often at work as I also tend to cover my tattoos, but the weekends are a free for all.

I wear halter tops, tank tops, strapless maxi dresses, really anything that will expose my back (and hopefully my pitter, too).  I’ve even resorted to cutting up shirts - or “altering” them as I say.  They were t-shirts reborn into tank tops.  And I like them that much better.  Now they have a little more personality and they also show off my scars in all the right ways.

I guess my hope is that someone will ask.  But, lets face it - the only people that will have the balls to ask me what the scars are from are children.  Children and maybe the elderly.  Oh, we can’t forget drunk people.  Yes, children, the elderly and drunks.  Hmmm….I wonder where they would all be in one place?  I think my best bet would be convalescent home on Christmas Eve.   Families coming to visit nanna on a holiday bringing her favorite festive drink - egg nog, with brandy - to which ‘drunk uncle’ will pour himself a few more than everyone else.  Would that happen?  Possibly.  Would I be there?  Possibly not.

Regardless if someone or no one asks, I’m embracing the shit out my scars; I think they add a little pirate pizzazz…I actually kind of dig the way they look.  I’m stoked that I feel this way because do you know how much of a bummer that would be if I hated them?  That would suck.

The hubs actually brought up a point today - What do you expect to accomplish with the people that don't ask?  I don't know.  Honestly, I don't know.  He said that maybe I should have a sign or something saying "Curious?  Just ask!"  I thought that was a really good idea, but not sure if I'd actually follow through with it.  You would assume that someone fully exposing their scars, even wearing a shirt that was obviously cut, wouldn't mind being asked - but of course, it's "rude" to ask what the nature of our scars are.  Maybe I do need a button or something silly like that; I'd absolutely love to talk to strangers about them :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

The joys of follow up appointments

I’ve got to get used to awkward moments.  These follow up dermatologist appointments are completely embarrassing.  Everything from the terrible lighting in the office, the hideous paper gowns and we can’t fail to mention that someone scopes you out EVERYWHERE.  And I mean everywhere.  Luckily I remembered to bring big girl panties to wear over my barely there chonies more commonly known as thong-tha-thong-tha-thongs (Ahhh, only Sisqo could make a song about underwear popular).

I don’t even know why I thought that the boy shorts would “protect” me.  I suppose they did a little protection in the front, but definitely not the back.  He straight up pulled those bad boys down and checked out my bum.  Awkward!  He didn’t do that with my bra, which made my girls feel slightly insecure.  Ha!  Just kidding.  I was stoked that I didn’t have to suffer through two separate humiliating incidences.  I’ve thought of changing to a female doctor, but it’s kind of pointless since now I'm so freaking close to Dr. Dermatologist.  That’s the same way I feel about my lady-parts doctor; there’s no point in finding another one because she knows me VERY well. 

The visit itself is a head-to-toe check, or should I say "toe-to-head"?  You get undressed, put on one of those silly paper gowns and lie down on your back.  He starts at the feet, looks in between your toes and looks at your toe nails (remember – Melanoma can show up on the beds of your toenails).  Then he works his way up your legs all the way up to your neck.  Then you flip over to your stomach with your silly paper gown totally open in the back, which this is the exact moment I was thankful for the big-girl panties.  He again starts at the feet working his way all the way to your neck, stopping by your bum for a quick cheek check.  Finally, you sit up, he looks at your hands and fingernails then he dives straight into your hair.  Note to self: next time do NOT wear your hair up again because you’ll have to take it down and go to work with a jacked up fro. 

He actually spent the most time during the visit looking at a mole that I have on the base of my scalp while swimming through my hair.  Made me nervous because I can’t see it!  Now that I wrote that, that’s probably the issue he was having – he couldn’t see the damn thing either.  Humm….  The second most amount of time was spent checking out the moles around my incision on my back.  Everything is good to go, he has no concerns at this time.  I’ve got another three months to go before surrendering to another round of physical shame.  Joy.