27 Apr Ashley Waitkoss
When I was pregnant with Evan I noticed a mole on my right upper calf that kind of came out of nowhere. It was perfectly round and a reddish purple color. When it started it was about the size of a sucker stick. I mentioned it to my OB doc at one of my routine visits. She looked and it and touched it and stated that it was nothing to be concerned about and that weird things like this happened during pregnancy all the time. I disregarded the mole at this time but always kept a close eye on it.
It seemed to get bigger very slowly, so while I was at another routine appointment with my primary physician I mentioned the mole. He too checked the mole by touching it and pushing around on it. He stated that it did not resemble a cancerous mole so once again I ignored it for a while longer. One day I was reading “Parents” magazine and there was an IDENTICAL story to mine. The woman had a mole pop up during pregnancy and several doctors had told her it was nothing. At this time, I went back to my primary and asked for a referral to a dermatologist.
About a week later I got in with Dr. Stone here in town. Another doctor in her office came in and also stated that the mole didn’t look like anything to be worried about but that she would take it off and test it I would like. About 10 days later the office called me and stated I would need to come in for my results on the biopsy. At this time I was told I had stage 2 melanoma. The doctor told us this was the deadliest form of skin cancer and since I had the mole for almost 2 years before it was removed they would need to run numerous labs and tests to ensure the cancer had not spread throughout my body.
After an entire weekend waiting and holding our breath, we found out that the cancer had not spread. Of course this all had to happen on June 1 which happened to be a Friday-the longest weekend of all of our lives. At this time I smoked as well and was tanning every other day. We waited the ENTIRE weekend for the results of all the tests.
We decided to head down to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. We left town the 3rd and I had the cancer out on June 9th. The atmosphere of that place was AMAZING. I walked into that place scared to death and surrounded by all types of cancer patients fighting for their lives. The hope that filled the air was so promising. I remember at my intake with the first person to help me, I sat in her office and was so scared I thought I would get sick.
The woman across the desk asked all the basics then of course the dreaded question of my diagnosis. When I stated Melanoma she literally shrugged it off and ensured me I WOULD BE JUST FINE! She told me her own story of melanoma on her face and how Dr. Ray (my doc at the CTCA) had saved her life. Everyone that worked at the center had in some way underwent some sort of treatment for cancer. She sat across that desk from me filling me with hope and taking away all my fear. Then at the end of the conversation stated she was battling ovarian cancer, but she wasn’t scared at all. She said she wouldn’t let the cancer take her, but that she would take the cancer, head on.
We were in Illinois for about a week and never once did I run into one person that wasn’t just as hopeful and cheerful. On June 1st 2009, I walked out of that office with two babies under a year old, and I wasn’t sure if I would be around to see their 2nd birthday. I remember having all the tests done and I was literally numb all over and in such shock that this was actually happening to me.
I got home and just laid in my mom’s arms for hours. She was just as scared as we all were but she just held me and promised it would all be ok. My grandma came over and made the same promises to me. It truly is something that you NEVER THINK WILL HAPPEN TO YOU. It still plays a huge roll in my life, I try not to take so many things for granted and I have more faith then I ever have. Thanks for asking for my story, gosh I haven’t talked about it in so long, didn’t realize this would all come out.