Melanoma Part 2 – Surgery

When I got the call from the dermatologist, it was weird. I wasn’t really surprised when she first told me it was melanoma. Like I said in part one I had a strong impression that something was not right about that mole!
What did take me off guard was when she told me that her suggestion would be to go to huntsman cancer institute to have the surgery, and for them to do a sentinel lymph node biopsy along with the wide incision on my back. This was because of the depth of the mole, it was just deep enough that it caused a little bit of concern. She said the chances of it being in my lymph system is very low, but that if it were her she would want to do it out of precaution. That’s when things got real!

So the referral was sent, and the waiting game began. I have decided that is just what cancer is, as far as my experience has gone, waiting for appointments, doctors calls, insurance, results from scans. It takes a lot of patience I tell you!
I finally got in to the oncologist surgeon at Hunstman, who I have loved. He is wonderful, and that has made this a much easier experience. I know I can get in contact with him any time, and he always takes time explaining things to me. He agreed the chances of it being in my lymph system was very low, but that out of precaution the node biopsy should be done.

By this time we were approaching the holidays and I decided to wait until after New Years to have the procedure done, and my doctor felt like it wouldn’t make a difference. I wanted to enjoy Christmas break with my kids if possible.
January 2 was dye injection and scan day. Your skin drains to the lymph nodes but every body is different, so they have to do this procedure to know which lymph nodes to biopsy. They inject the dye where your primary tumor(mole) was found, mine is in the center of my lower back. Then they do a series of scans to watch where the dye goes. In my case it went to both arm pits.

The next day was surgery day, and I was ready! By this time it had been over a month from finding out about it, and I was ready to get it over with! Typically this would have taken an hour and a half, but it ended up taking four hours. They did send nurses out to let Mike know it was going to be longer and not to worry. They had trouble finding the nodes and then found one that looked abnormal by my collarbone and decided to grab that one as well. I woke up feeling pretty crappy, which is normal for me, my body does not like anesthesia and wants to reject everything after! The wide incision on my back was about 3 inches and I had incisions about an inch long on both arm pits and one on the collarbone. They took a total of 7 nodes, and clean cuts of my back and sent them off to the lab.

Kate Blom