Results Are Great! Walking Reminder to Protect Yourself From the Sun - Kirkland, WA

I was diagnosed with stage 2 melanoma in July of...

I was diagnosed with stage 2 melanoma in July of 2009 only 2 months after I gave birth to my daughter. October 7 2009 I went in for the first of my 2 surgeries for the removal of the melanoma. The first surgery was to remove the actual skin and melanoma mole which ended up being about 2 inches of skin around my left eye. After the analysis was completed they realized that it had spread and would need to remove an additional section which was another 3 inches surrounding the area which included half of my eyelid and into my hairline.
I had the best surgeon I could ask for, very supportive and she did an excellent job. Both my dermatologist and my cosmetic surgeon all commented that the removal was excellent.

Pros and cons: well there are not very many cons that I can think of. It was a no-brainer of having the surgery and having it removed. If left alone it would have spread to my eye and I had a 75% chance of having Retinol Melanoma which would result in radiation treatments, removal of my eye and a high risk of spreading to my optical nerve into my brain. Although I did not want the surgery, it was a must and I am very happy I had it.
My motivation was this brand new little life I just brought into the world that I could not leave. I knew if I did not have this done, I may not be around to see her grow up and it was a simple choice.
When I am diagnosed with melanoma I told my dermatologist to book the appointments for the next availability, I did not want to wait on it for another moment.
I look back at pictures now and yes there is a scar, although it has healed and people do not notice it much, but it was so worth it. I have been melanoma free in that area since 2009 and could not be happier.
This diagnosis and surgery has changed my life completely. Growing up in Seattle where we have limited sun I rarely wore sunscreen, which I am sure was the cause of the melanoma. Now? I apply sunscreen twice a day, wear a foundation makeup with SPF of at least 30 and I slather on the sunscreen whenever I know I will be outside. I wear hats outside and I am always watching the time to ensure I re-apply the sunscreen within the appropriate time. The fear of having this has also helped me in protecting my daughter as well. Even though it may take a few moments longer, I make sure she has sunscreen on of at least 45+.
I have also been a visual reminder to my friends when they head outdoors. I have had numerous friends/family members mention to me that they always remember me when they are out in the sun and make sure to apply sunscreen.

What do I wish I knew beforehand. Wow there are so many things I wish I would have paid attention to. I wish I would have not used tanning beds when I was younger, although I only used a handful of times - I wish I could have seen into the future of what this did to my skin. I wish my mom would have applied sunscreen on me when I was younger more than she did. I wish I would have learned to apply it through college and on vacations.
Although this experience was a horrible one, we do learn from our mistakes and I have learned a huge lesson. I can now pass this along to my daughter and prevent her from going through what I have.

You have an amazingly good outlook about all of this. That is very admirable. I'm so glad it was caught before it spread any further. Do you mind me asking how it was caught? Was there something on your skin that didn't look quite right?

Reply
Hello! I have always had a mole at the corner of my left eye for as long as i could remember. I had not seen a friend of mine for about 2 years, we met up for lunch and she said to me: Did you put eyeliner on that mole for a more Marilyn Monroe look? She was kidding but I took it to heart. If it were not for her I would not have made the appointment with my dermatologist so fast.
My Dermatologist is my true savior in this as she examined and tested the heck out of it. She had 3 tests done just to be sure because removal of the area would be extensive and well it was.

I do have to thank my friend for her noticing it though. I had not seen how dark the spot had gotten. I went back in pictures and she was right, although it had not actually grown in size that I could see. I did not see the usually "spreading" affect that they say to look for, but after looking back at pictures I could see it had gotten much darker over the years.
Now I go in every 3 months for a full body exam for preventive care and I had a total body imaging done. I was sent home with graph pictures of every part of my body and yes it was humiliating at first, but better safe then sorry. Once i see a new mole pop up or one that appears more spread or darker, i get my pictures and I can see what that area looked like before.
It helps in identifying new spots because I am very moley and apparently very appealing to melanoma. :( This was not my first nor my last mole removed and this was not my only case of surgery. The case I listed was just the over the top 'big whopper' one as I refer to it. I have had a total of 6 melanomas removed since 2009, all were stage 1 and random areas on my body. Luckily nothing extensive and they all have healed up nicely. :)
Reply

Whoa! 6 melanomas removed?! That is a lot - you are a trooper! I live in Seattle too, and my goodness, with as little sun as we get you just wouldn't expect it...but then again as soon as the sun comes out, out we run and sunscreen is often not top of mind.

I have had a few moles removed, but thankfully they have always come back benign. I can only imagine how scary it must have been to have found out it was cancer cells. I'm glad to hear you are getting examined so regularly. Hopefully you won't have to go through anything this drastic again. 

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Kirkland Ophthalmologist

I listed both of my surgeons the one that actually did the melanoma removal: Dr. Annalisa Gorman at Skin Surgery Center in Bellevue Washington and my Plastic Surgeon Dr. LauKaitis at Allure Cosmetic Surgery in Kirkland Washington. Skin Surgery center in Bellevue I would give a total of 5 stars for everything. Dr Gorman and her staff were amazing. They were very supportive, described the process entirely to me and walked me through the procedure. They kept me calm and took excellent care of me while i was going through the whole procedure. Allure Cosmetic Surgery in Kirkland I would give 4 stars overall. The only item I would ding them on was the wait times. I arrived for my surgery at 9am asked not to eat at all and was not put into surgery until 1030am. I was very sick with a migraine from lack of food/blood sugar dropped. They did not keep us posted on what the wait was for or why it was taking so long. I was already in my gown and ready to go so I just sat there very nervous. Other than that part of the experience, the surgery went fine. I woke up and was very ill coming off of the anesthesia but they did prep me for this. The follow up care was excellent. The staff walked me through what to expect, called and did several checkups after I returned home. Because my surgery was more challenging (eyelid was removed) there were 3 surgeons involved with my surgery. Dr. LauKaitis did the overall surgery with Dr. Sires and an intern assisting. They did an amazing job! Although I do have a scar and my eyelid is a bit deformed on the edges it functions! I was worried about losing the eyelid all together or losing the ability to wear contacts. They removed skin from my other eyelid to graft and did an amazing job. Although I was unable to see out of that eye for several days and the other eye looked like I was in a boxing match, I could not be happier. I will have an eventual follow up surgery to fix the sagging skin of the eyelid within the next 4 years as they prepared me for. Now that I have had such a great experience with them I have no fear and know that I will look amazing. :)

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
4 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
3 out of 5 stars Wait times
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