As you can tell it’s time for a blog post and an update, not just on photography but on life of the photographer. They say that sometimes it just takes one person to share their story to make a difference in someone else’s life, that’s what I’m hoping this will do.
2 weeks ago I became one of those people who heard the words “You have skin cancer,” but I’ll start from the beginning. For my entire life I have had freckles galore from my nose to my toes, including many “beauty marks” as people call them… others call them moles. I will admit it I am guilty of spending too many of my high school and college years hiding in a tanning bed, trying to get that perfect winter glow. What the heck was I thinking? I can tell you I NEVER thought I would be one of those people who would worry about getting skin cancer. It’ll never happen to me. Who hasn’t thought that?
At the beginning of this summer I noticed a mole on my hip which was questionable, I decided to keep an eye on it to see if it changed over the summer months. Finally this fall I decided enough is enough and I scheduled an appointment to get it checked out. My lovely friend Kelly recommended her dermatologist, Dr. Chermak at Dermatology Specialists in Edina – I was able to get in the following week. PERFECT! Just enough time to freak myself out about it all! As I pulled into the parking lot, talking to my mom on the phone, she said “Don’t worry, it’s probably nothing.” How I wish it would have been nothing, Dr. Chermak took one look at the mole and said “That has to come off TODAY.” Enter Ashley panic mode. After I finally gathered myself, rearranged my teaching schedule and picked up my mom – we went back and had the mole removed. 5 stitches later we were off. She said we would know in a few days what the results were, if it were melanoma or not.
When the phone rang on that Friday afternoon I got the official results… “It is skin cancer.” It was a bit of a blur as to what else she said after that, I remember saying a lot of OK and yeah. The next step was going to a plastic surgeon to have more of the area removed as well as checking my lymph nodes to make sure they had not been infected with the cancer. My biggest thing through all this was to enjoy my 29th birthday no matter what – I scheduled the surgery for the week after my birthday. This past Wednesday I got myself together and with my mom in tow, we made our way down to the hospital. First stop was radiology to get this super cool blue dye injected in my incision to figure out where the cancer could have traveled to. I won’t lie, this was pretty cool to watch on the monitor but I will be okay if I never have to do it again. They figured out which lymph node it would have traveled to and off to pre-op I went.
I have to say I’m so grateful I was surrounded by the best group of nurses and doctors imaginable. They made me feel so relaxed and comfortable! After 3 attempts at putting in a stupid IV, guess that’s what happens when you’ve had to fast for 13 hours, the IV went in and off to surgery I went! A lovely 45 minute “nap” later I was awake and feeling good – ready to go home and EAT! This girl was HUNGRY! Dr. Sam said everything went great and the lymph node they removed looked normal but we would know more on Friday.
The best news happened this morning at 8:30, I received a call from Dr. Sam…. CANCER FREE! The lymph node was benign and everything is good!Seriously… if I could dance around I would jump for joy and shout it from the roof tops!
Thank you to my family and friends who have been an incredible support system these last few weeks! I don’t know what I would do without each and every one of you!
The main reason I decided to share this part of me is to make others aware – it takes 5 minutes to get a full body check… do it. It could save your life. I caught it early and couldn’t be more grateful and relieved. It’s not over for me, I will continue to be monitored carefully the rest of my life but here’s to hoping that’s all cancer is going to take from me. You’ve only got one body, take good care of it! If at least one person gets checked out because of hearing my story, it’s all worth it.
Cheers to having 2014 be a lot better than 2013