Sunday, August 09, 2009

Lucky Lucky Adventurer!

This probably saved my life.

So, there's been this funky patch of skin over my right clavicle for about two years. I kept looking at it thinking, "that might be skin cancer, I should have it checked out." Basal cell carcinomas run in my family (history's revenge for all the pillaging our Viking ancestors did) and Mommawether is always getting some patch shaved off. I finally made a dermatologist's appointment for last Thursday. It's always fun to go to a new doctor. They walk in, ask me to remove my shirt, and then their eyes bug out. My new skin doc didn't disappoint me there. The second words out his mouth were, "What the hell happened to you?!" We spent fifteen minutes discussing the scars on my head, chest, back, groin, arms, and legs, then got down to business.

"Yep" he said when I asked if the spot on my chest was skin cancer. "But as far as cancer goes, that's the type to have." He was pretty sure it's just a basal cell carcinoma. He was about to start going over the rest of my body but before he could I asked him to check out a spot on my foot. He seemed a little disgruntled that I was breaking his normal examination routine and took my foot with a slight frown.

As I watched, his frown increase causing furrows to form on his forehead.
"How long has this been here?" he asked.
"Pretty much forever, decades at least." I replied.

He didn't say anything else as he carefully checked every spot on my body. Finally he finished and sat back on his chair.

"The spot on your foot is most likely a melanoma. It is one of the most dangerous cancers there is, but if it's caught early there is an excellent survival rate, better than 90%. Luckily, yours is very small and should respond well to treatment. Normally melanomas on the feet are the worst, most aggressive type. Yours is only 7mm across at the widest. I feel it won't need anything more than surgically excising it and some of the surrounding tissue."

My melanoma. I named it Zog. DEATH TO ZOG!!

So anyway, later this month I'm going to have a 2cm-diameter ball carved out of my foot followed some time on crutches. With luck that'll take care of the issue and no further treatment will be needed. Plus side of all this is I'll be able to make a bunch more additions and improvements to my Wild Edibles Blog.

And now here is YOUR assignment: CHECK YOU FEET!
A popular method for remembering the signs and symptoms of melanoma is the mnemonic "ABCDE":

* Asymmetrical skin lesion.
* Border of the lesion is irregular.
* Color: melanomas usually have multiple colors.
* Diameter: moles greater than 6 mm are more likely to be melanomas than smaller moles.
* Enlarging: Enlarging or evolving

A weakness in this system is the D. Many melanomas present themselves as lesions smaller than 6 mm in diameter; and likely all melanomas were malignant on day 1 of growth, which is merely a dot. An astute physician will examine all abnormal moles, including ones less than 6 mm in diameter.

Like I said, mine is only 7mm at the widest point, so it's barely considered to be a melanoma. I got really, really lucky (I hope).

Adventure! Excitement! Death to Zog (and a few prayers, too)!!!

p.s. I debated a while as to whether or not I should post this. It seems so minor compared to the stage 4 lung cancer the wife of a close friend/fellow blogger is currently fighting. If anyone needs prayers it is her and her family. I decided to post this hoping that it'd help one of you catch this sort of thing real early, too. You know what to look for, now go look. Make it fun, check someone else!


Jackie said...

Great that you decided to post this; it may just save a life or two. I recently had a benign skin thingy my age we call them barnacles.

Jackie said...

My very best thoughts and prayers are with you. I just know the world is not through with you yet. Many more adventures await!

Anonymous said...


It's sobering news, to say the least, but I'm glad you caught this and are speaking up. Good luck!

Wildcat said...

i'm glad you posted Merriwether. this dang cancer just seems to get worse and worse for everyone. she just spent a week in md anderson and they found it in her bones too. sheesh.

i suggest everyone get checked out regular. if it can happen in a 32 year old. dont think you have to be old to get cancer.


Bramble said...

Melanoma of any size is serious stuff....all it's gonna do is GET BIGGER and/or have children. Then you're dealing with Zog and sons. I know several who have lost large portions of their calves and feet to melanomas not much bigger that the one you have. Very glad you caught it. Prayers and thoughts to you. And death to all Zogs in the world!

Merriwether said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Merriwether said...

Um, y'all are scaring me... :-P

I go in to be deZogafied on Aug. 24th followed by whatever treatment the doc thinks I'll need. I'm hoping there's a new cure involving Cajun food, beer, and video games!


Packman said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery from a very successful surgery.

Carey said...

Hey! Thanks for this post. I went to the dr. today to have him look at a spot that's been there forever on the bottom of my foot. It's a little bit smaller than a pencil eraser and flat but after I checked out your sites that you linked...I got concerned. I'm being set up with a dermatologist to get it removed probably. I will be saying a prayer for you Monday and that ZOG is nothing, but gone! Wanted to give you a BIG thanks for blogging about it!

Anonymous said...

I'm very glad you posted this. I have the almost EXACT SPOT on the same place of my left foot. And I never thought much of it until I read your post.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I just wanted to say that it's possible that it isn't a melanoma if it's been there for many years (unless it's changed a lot recently). I hope that's the case for you.

crystal said...

I have a spot on the bottom of my foot too and a nail that has a blackline that has never grown but apparently it is a mole. I recently started noticing moles on my body after each of my two children were born. I guess I'm going to buck up and see the doctor. Thanks for the post!