Alyse said that it easy to get busy with life and forget to take care of ourselves. She urges anyone with an unusually large or dark mole to make an appointment and get it looked at before it turns into something major. This is especially important if skin cancer runs in your family like it does Alyse’s. “Melanoma is nothing to joke around with” says her doctor, “it’s unpredictable”.
Alyse and I met while working at the Armory years ago, and as our friendship has grown over the last 6 years, I have learned a lot about her. She is the hardest working person that I know, and while willing to help others in need she has always been self-sufficient. She strives for perfection in everything she attempts: work, school, being a good friend, and life in general. If you would like to help Alyse during this time, please donate a little something as every little bit counts.
History and Timeline:
In 2012, Alyse had a mole removed from her left arm, and in 2014 had it checked out because an increase in size and appearance of pink color concerned her. Her dermatologist told her there was no reason to do a biopsy at the time because it appeared to be a scar. A couple months ago, she began experiencing pain in her left arm and returned to the dermatologist in May. Here is a summary of her recent experience:
May 23rd: Biopsy of Mole
The site of Alyse’s arm alarmed her dermatologist and she preceded to perform a biopsy immediately during that initial appointment. A piece of the mole was cut out and her arm was stitched up. She was scheduled to return a week later to remove the stitches from the biopsy site.
May 30th: Biopsy Results positive for Malignant Melanoma
As a result of the biopsy done a week earlier, Alyse was diagnosed with malignant melanoma that originated from existing mole on her left arm. Although her dermatologist was quite sure that the cancer had spread, her surgeon Dr. Garner said that there was a chance the cancer was contained and had not spread beyond that point. But with a size of almost 1mm deep, Dr. Garner insisted it was a priority to get the malignant mole removed and check the lymph nodes near it.
June 15th: Surgery #1 – Mole Removal and Lymph Node Biopsy
She had the first surgery performed by Dr. Garner which consisted of a wide local excision of melanoma on the arm 7.5cm x 3cm x 2cm in thickness and a sentinel lymph node biopsy of the armpit. A rather large portion of the outside of her left arm was removed along with two lymph nodes that were to be tested for cancer. Being a healthy 28-year old, she hoped that the cancer was contained within the mole and had not yet spread. She had expected to return to work within 1 to 2 weeks.
June 20th: Biopsy Results reveals Cancer spread to Lymph Node
Biopsy revealed that cancer was present in 1 of the 2 lymph nodes. This is where that dreaded word “metastasis” shows up in cancer. The surgeon said she had to go back for more surgery to get the rest of those lymph nodes removed from that armpit. Working as a CNA in the medical field and knowing that the effects of lymph node removal and lymph edema can mean lifelong complications, Alyse was hesitant to move forward with the second surgery. It took some convincing from friends, family, and her doctor, but she decided to go through with it.
June 22nd: Surgery #2 – Removal of 13 lymph nodes in left armpit
A large incision was made under Alyse’s armpit to remove several more lymph nodes to test them for cancer. She had a drain put in for lymph fluid for a few weeks. She will have a PET scan and an MRI this week to make sure the cancer hasn’t spread to distant parts of the body. She just found out on June 26th that these 13 lymph nodes tested negative for cancer which is great news!
Being a malignant patient means she will need to see an on oncologist now for a few years. She will start therapy with an edema specialist to prevent lymph edema in the arm from having these lymph nodes removed. If anyone is in the position to help at all it would be greatly appreciated.
Some facts about Malignant Melanoma:
· is the fastest growing cancer in the world
· is the deadliest form of skin cancer
· accounts for less than 1% of skin cancer cases
· accounts for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths
· usually arises from an existing mole
· one of the most common cancers in people under 30
· genetic factors are the most important