May Is For MelanomaChristine Coppa
My good friend, George, (JD was his ring bearer in his wedding) had “a pimple” on his leg. For TWO YEARS the pimple “irked” him and one day while hanging out down the shore, he decided he was going to get it removed for cosmetic reasons, because he thought it was “ugly.” He went to a local dermatologist.
George was diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma. This is a life-threatening stage.
My dad took control of the situation, getting George an appointment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, where he himself was treated in 2003. Dad and my brother Carlo (George’s best friend) attended the appointment and surgery with George.
George is now cancer-free and has post-op checks with his surgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and his dermatologist two times a year.
If George didn’t get the ugly pimple removed and my dad didn’t fast-track him to Sloan, he’d be dead.
I’m being intentionally blunt, because this is the truth and if one of you Babble.com readers reads this and gets a scan, I will have done my job.
When JD was one, I noticed a tiny freckle on his bottom lip. It was like he went to bed one night and it appeared the next morning, when I was changing his diaper. Pop!
I called his pediatrician. The doctor said it was fine. Unsatisfied, I called a local dermatologist. She checked it too, and said it was fine, normal, and that just like people get freckles and moles on their arms or faces, they can get them on their lips or anywhere!
I still found it odd.
I found it odd because my dad’s cancer was of the mouth and it was major.
So my dad and I took JD to see his surgeon—a world-renowned head and neck Cancer doctor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
JD, was of course, fine. Phew. Once this doc cleared him, I calmed down and we all ate some pizza in NYC.
His pediatrician, dermatologist, and my dad’s doc have all said as JD’s lips grow, the freckle will too and one day he might want to have it cosmetically removed. I think the freckle is cute and will be the death of me when JD is in high school, because girls will think it’s … really cute—it’s like that scar through 90201 Dylan McKay’s eyebrow.
Recently, a little girl in JD’s class called him out on the “black spot on his lip.” He came home pretty sad. I told him he was awesome and that his lip freckle is special and then I let him count all the freckles on my body. He lost count. “You’re like mommy—freckley!”
Get your whole family full body scans. It’s awesome. You stand there naked and a doc looks at you. I did it. I had 3 moles removed. One was on its way to stage 1 Melanoma. I have another scar on my back as a result. But I don’t have cancer. JD and I get checked once a year.
Be proactive. Wear sunscreen.
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