The time was about 18 months after the diagnosis of my first cancer (Stage 4 pharyngeal cancer). My wife and I were relaxing in our hot tub. She was looking at a mole on my chest that I had had for over twenty years. I had the mole checked every year when I had my annual physical and then by every oncologist who had worked with me during the treatment for my first cancer.
All of them said the mole was nothing. Mary didn’t like it. She said “will you get that thing taken off ?”. A few days later, I had another appointment scheduled with my medical oncologist so I asked him about it again. His answer was very simple. He said “Pat, you talked to me about that mole before. The main reason to have something like that removed is that it bugs you.
The fact that it bugs your wife is even a better reason. I will give you a referral to a dermatologist today.” I visited the dermatologist a week or so later. He looked at it and said “I don’t think it is anything to be concerned about, but we will take it off today and send it out to pathology. We will get the results in about a week and we will send you a postcard to say it was nothing.
On the remote chance that it is something, we will call you.” A week later, I hadn’t received a postcard. I was home when the phone rang and the caller ID said it was my dermatologist’s office. Both Mary and I saw the caller ID so she said “You better answer it.” I did and it was my dermatologist calling to say the pathology report had come back and the tissue removed was “wall to wall and top to bottom malignant melanoma” and they wanted me to come in the next morning for more extensive surgery.
I went in and they excised a much larger piece of tissue. They told me that they thought they got all of it and the melanoma would not be a concern. They sent it out for a pathology report and it came back with good results. The melanoma had been caught early and it was very thin. This week I celebrate my 5 year anniversary as a melanoma survivor.
I give credit to the cancer clinical trial I was in for the cure from my pharyngeal cancer. My wife is responsible for the cure from my melanoma. Had it been up to me, I would have ignored it until it was substantially worse and who knows what the results would have been.