Sometimes, Cancer Isn’t Cured with Stitches

Yesterday I found out that a young woman who I was introduced to via social networking shortly after I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma had passed away from her cancer. She was only 40 and left behind a husband and two young sons, and her name is Dawn.

While my mole was simply removed with a wide-margin surgery, her treatment was to take out a couple of her lymph nodes in her groin to biopsy them as well along with the mole removal. Dawn’s treatment was considered successful after her second lymph node surgery, CT and PET scans in the winter of 2009, a full year before my diagnosis and treatment. She was instructed to get a mole check every three months; I went in every six.

Last February when she told her doctor she’d been having pain, he proactively ordered a scan even though she’d been given the all clear by her dermatologist. That’s when they discovered her cancer had returned. Then after some chemo treatment, they performed surgery just three weeks ago and basically found the tumors were inoperable. Last week she came home and began “planning visitations and playlists“.

Her story is both frightening similar and altogether different from mine. I don’t compare my situation her hers to bring attention to myself, but as a simple reminder to that I don’t believe that fate has anything to do with how our lives turn out. It’s simply luck, whether good or bad. I didn’t “deserve” getting cancer, and Dawn certainly didn’t “deserve” to die. A roll of dice has left me cancer-free (as far as I know), but her death has shaken me to the quick. In another six months, my diagnosis could be as equally dire. Like her, I look back on past symptoms (the severe breast pain; the bone-melting fatigue) and wonder if the doctors really did weigh in my past diagnosis.

I don’t want to harp on you, my friends, the seriousness and dangers of tanning, whether by bed or sun, but if my story of survival doesn’t convince you that you need to be sun-conscious, I hope that Dawn’s life and her legacy does.

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6 thoughts on “Sometimes, Cancer Isn’t Cured with Stitches”

  1. I’m sorry about your friend, Dawn. It is heart breaking. I remember in high school watching my friends never use sun screen and be out in the sun all day. I’ve always tried to use sun screen as much as possible because of yours, Dawn’s, and others stories. Again sorry for your loss.

  2. It can seem like our melanoma was not as “serious” because we were able to cut it out. Such a small margin of difference between people thinking it wasn’t that big of a deal… and death. There is no middle ground with melanoma. I understand that. Carry on and live well.

  3. So sorry about your friend. I’ve always been a sunscreen fiend but its surprising how many people don’t seem to understand how important it is.

  4. Because of your bout with MM, I am much more conscious of putting on sunscreen and covering up especially now that we live in a place where the sun can be quite intense. I used to shrug all that off because I was never one to burn easily. That point is driven home even more so now that I have read parts of your friend Dawn’s story.

    Keeping her family in my thoughts tonight…

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