The University of South Florida’s College of Medicine is a remarkable place. Located on far north side of Tampa, it features new buildings, easy parking and access–plus it’s close to Moffitt Cancer Center, so I can walk back and forth between buildings.
As you can see in this picture, even the Florida Gulf coast experiences a bit of fall. But average high temperature is still 83 degrees this time of year. Been a bit cooler than that. Wonderful weather.
Yesterday I forgot to mention a third reason I felt it was important to see a skin cancer specialist about the brown spot, growing along the inside of the crease or grove on the front part of my left ear.
I had read how long term use of certain chemotherapy drugs could make one’s skin more susceptible to skin cancer. So can undergoing a stem cell transplant–especially when donor cells are used.
I didn’t have to worry about the second part, since my own cells were used for my auto SCT. But I had been using Revlimid for over four years–and now I had used Velcade, too.
So what did Dr. Shenefelt have to say about my biopsy results?
“Yes, you have skin cancer–malignant melanoma, in situ.” he said softly.
“So it is melanoma…” I repeated, surprised.
Never a man of many words, Dr. Shenefelt continued: “We need to get that taken care-of right away.”
I read over the dermatopathology report as soon as he handed it to me. There it was, in bold, capitalized letters:
MALIGNANT MELANOMA IN SITU IN SUN DAMAGED SKIN WITH AN ASSOCIATED INTRADERMAL NEVUS, EXTENDING TO THE PERIPHERAL BIOPSY EDGES
I will spare you the hard-to-follow details which were spelled-out later in the report.
The bottom line: I had just been diagnosed with a second, serious form of cancer.
No more worries about how to respond if someone on the street thought “myeloma” meant “melanoma,” or skin cancer.
No more confusion or long explanations–when I could see the person’s eyes start to glaze-over–as I tried to explain how myeloma and melanoma weren’t exactly the same thing.
Now I could honestly nod and say “YES! You’re right. I have skin cancer.” And save both of us so much time…
Cool! Now I’ve got that going for me!
All kidding aside, their was some good news. I soon learned that “malignant melanoma in situ” is another way of saying I had melanoma, Stage 0–as in zero. That doesn’t sound so bad…
“What do we do if it has spread, doctor?” I asked, curiously.
“No worries about that.” he optimistically replied. “In situ never spreads–unless it isn’t taken care of immediately.”
I will share more details about my melanoma diagnosis with you tomorrow. It’s actually pretty interesting.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat