19 Dec Belinda DeLee
I am a redhead, green eyes, and very fair skin. Growing up I lived in upstate NY, and many of you know that summer is not a very long of a season. So I took full advantage, swimming everyday, riding bike, etc. anything from sun up to sun down that could be done outdoors I did it. I now wish I had taken more advantage of the sunscreen instead of the sun. We moved to NC about 6 years ago, and I noticed a brown spot on my cheek (just under my eye), I questioned my doctor at annual visits (2 years in a row), her response was that it was just an age spot and I would never need to worry about it.
In April of this year I had a bad spider bite on my jaw that would not heal and was sent to see a dermatologist, I have never been so thankful for a spider bite in my life. The derm. doctor did not mince words and said “It’s not the bite that worries me it’s that brown spot.” So the spot I had asked about for 2 years was now throwing a red flag, I was so disappointed, as I really trusted my doctor. I had 3 biopsies done on my face that day. While waiting to hear from the doctors 2 smaller brown spots appeared in the center of my cheek and a big red spot (almost looked like a burn).
On my 44th birthday in May they contacted me with the news no one ever wants to hear. “Mrs. DeLee, the spot on your cheek is melanoma in situ, and we will need to remove it.” I had no idea the roller coaster ride I was about to take. My son was graduating high school in June, and was entering boot camp for the Marines in July, so my motherly instincts kicked in and I told them that everything would need to be done before my son left. My first surgery to remove the cancer was June 18th, the spot removed was the size of a quarter, and 2 more biopsies were done that day. The next day the news was not good they would need to remove the majority of my right cheek area. Before they would continue removing the cancer they needed to line up a reconstructive doctor. So removal was set for June 24th, margins were not clear so back for more removal.
The last removal was done on the 25th, and reconstructive surgery was done on the 26th. I feel fortunate in the fact that it had not spread to my lymph nodes, so removal and reconstructive surgery would be the extent of my treatment. It was a long road of recovery though, I developed an infection, which was easily taken care of, then I proceeded to get shingles, which lead to bell’s palsy. All this and my son was leaving July 8th for the Marines. Just wanted him to go do what he needed to do for himself and our country and not worry about his Mom.
Thanks to my doctors they got me feeling better and I was able to see my son off. I now see my derm doctor every 4 months, and I can say that I am a survivor and I earned these scars and wear them proudly.