Whether it's the first, or in my case, third diagnosis, the words "You have cancer" are hard to hear.
My first cancer diagnosis was in 2011. I had just moved to Austin with my son, when I learned I had stage II melanoma on my leg. After two surgeries, a sentinel node biopsy and clear margins, I needed a skin check every three months.
Two years later, a new mole appeared on my shoulder: stage I melanoma. The cancerous area was removed, and I received a clear report.
A year and a half later, I found a swollen node under my arm. A surgeon in Austin did a needle biopsy. It came back negative, but I still wanted it out. It was stage III melanoma. I was stunned. I eat well and exercise six days a week. I take pride in living a healthful life.
The 'big cancer' originated from my second melanoma, traveling into my lymph nodes, where it stayed silent for almost two years.
I wanted to be at the best cancer center in the world, with access to the latest melanoma treatment advancements. At MD Anderson, I made a plan with my oncology team to beat this 'silent killer' and soon underwent surgery.
I'm forever grateful to MD Anderson and its wonderful team. My son and I continue to fish and hike. And I can live to see him develop into a fine young man.
Promise invites cancer survivors to share their reflections. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.