Melanoma Diagnosis – My Story
In 2006 I was lifting weights at the gym when I felt a pinch on my right shoulder. I went home and had a mole that didn’t look right so I went to the doctor and was referred to the dermatologist at Milton Keynes Hospital. I was diagnosed with skin cancer and a malignant melanoma on my right shoulder blade and had four operations that year to remove 3 moles on my shoulder and one on my waistline. The signs were good that the cancer had been removed.
In November 2015 I was at the gym and noticed that my strength was decreasing and I was getting weaker. I found a lump under my right armpit and went to the doctors, had a biopsy and it was confirmed as cancer (malignant melanoma). I was referred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital and had a CT scan before having an operation to remove the Lymph Nodes. The operation took a few hours and I was in the hospital for 4 days. 33 malignant lymph nodes were removed.
I went home and had a fluid bag stitched into my right hand side which I had for about ten days. A little while after I was rushed into A&E after suffering a breathing problem. I saw a specialist, went for a scan and was diagnosed with a viral lung infection.
The day after, I went to the doctors again. I was feeling depressed and needed help. The doctor referred me to Willen Hospice. Graham, one of the Clinical Nurse Specialists at Willen Hospice who visits people in the community, came to my house to see me. I spoke to him for an hour – he listened and gave me advice.
I was having a lot of pain and limited movement in my arm following the operation and saw a cancer specialist at the hospital. He referred me to the Lymphoedema clinic at Willen Hospice and the team there have been supporting me, helping me with aftercare. The exercises the Physiotherapist has helped me with and the sleeve, taping and advice given by the Lymphoedema team have both helped with the mobility of my arm and reduced my pain. The team also showed my mum how to apply the support so it could be done at home. I also attended the Wellbeing Centre and received lots of support to help with the mental battle that I’ve gone through. The nurses offered advice, listened to me and given me so much support – I cannot fault them for their help and kindness. Jim, one of the volunteers at the Wellbeing Centre, helped me with tips on how to relax and even gave me a CD to listen to at home to help with relaxation.
With cancer, once you have the all clear that’s when another battle begins. I have ups and downs, flashbacks and have struggled with depression. Without Willen Hospice, I wouldn’t have known how to get through this. I’ve gone back to the gym to work on my physio and am now planning on doing trips around the world as I had done previously.