09 Jun Beth Green
04.2013 Beth Green
My name is Beth, I am now 30 years old, and this is the story of my 13 year battle with Melanoma…
As a child I literally grew up outside. My dad is a farmer and I loved to play softball. I participated in 4-H and also loved the outdoors. I am sure that my parents put sunscreen on me, but I was the child whom did not burn as much and do not recall ever having a sun burn that blistered. When I got into high school and started attending dances I wanted to be tan. I only got to use the tanning bed a handful of times as I was first diagnosed at age 17 with Melanoma. My dad had noticed a mole on my forehead that had not been there before and appeared to be growing. At this time it was only the size of a pencil eraser but at his request my mom took me to have it removed. It was only a couple days later when I came home and found my mom crying. She had gotten the call that I had Melanoma cancer and would need to be seen by a Dermatologist, Surgeon, and Oncologist. At age 17 I believed that I was invincible and teenagers whom were active did not die from cancer especially skin cancer. My parents on the other hand appeared to be devastated. I vividly remember my first appointment after that in which my diagnosis and all the risk were explained. It was at this time that everything set in. The oncologist had told my parents that if the cancer had spread or metastasized, the prognosis was that I would have six months to live. This is was the defining moment for me. In the appointments and surgeries to come we found out the cancer was in my lymph nodes and glands. This meant I had stage four Melanoma and that was when the treatments began. I spent the entire summer and my senior year of high school going back and for the to Children’s Mercy for interferon and radiation treatments. I knew that I had to fight the cancer if not only for myself, but for my parents, and my little sisters and brother. The best way I could think of at the time was to keep enjoying life. I played softball that summer and fall while also continuing to be a cheerleader for my high school. I had numerous surgeries and spent three days a week at the hospital receiving IV treatments. The treatments finished as did my senior year. I went off to college cancer free that fall. It didn’t last long as I was again diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2001. This time the cancer had spread throughout the lymph nodes in my neck and into the muscle tissue. I had just made it to college and joined a sorority. Needless to say this time I was devastated and even questioning why this had to happen to me again! This was also the first time during this journey that I saw my dad cry and could hear the tears in my grandma’s voice while I spoke with her on the phone. I had a radical neck dissection and now have a scar that is about nine inches long with scarring as well further scarring due to the radiation treatments that took place. The hospital stays got longer and surgeries more intense with drainage tubes and physical therapy. I was still determined to continue to fight and believe it or not one of my biggest worries before the surgery was the scarring. I even had my mom go by me lots of turtle neck sweaters for Christmas that year, although I did not end up wearing them. My treatments finished in the winter of 2002 and I have since been cancer free. I am now going on 11 years of being cancer free! It has been rough and I have had countless biopsies and moles removed as well as the millions of follow up appointments. I cannot say that I am glad this happened to me but I do believe it has made me the person I am today. I am able to see the positive side to everything and not sweat the small stuff. I do not tell my story to make people feel sorry for me. I now wear my scars proudly so that people will ask me what happened. Educating people is my way of helping others prevent this from happening to them. I want young women to know that you do not have to be tan to be beautiful and life is too short to not protect yourself. I feel blessed to be able to share my story and my journey with Melanoma. I am now married with three beautiful children and am thankful for everyday that I get to spend with them.