In late 2009 my husband noticed a mole on the back of my left arm that he said looked a little funny. I intended to have the mole checked but several months passed before I realized (time fly's) the mole had become itchy and was bleeding a little when I scratched it. I showed it to my Dad (Dr. Dennis Lehman) at the end of January 2010 and he said I definitely needed to have it looked at.
I visited a dermatologist where he removed the mole and sent it to the lab for biopsy. Three days later I received a call informing me the mole was malignant melanoma. I was devastated with the news. My Dad was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma about 5 years prior, so I was already somewhat familiar with what I was facing.
It was recommended that I see a surgeon as soon as possible and I was referred to Dr. Robert G. Anderson. He's a plastic surgeon in Fort Worth, TX that specializes in removing melanoma from the skin. Two days after receiving the initial biopsy info I was in Dr. Anderson's office. He set the appointment for surgery to remove the tumor site and surrounding tissue down to the muscle about the diameter of the bottom of a coke can. The original tumor was 1.18 MM in thickness/depth and approximately 7 x 6 x 1 MM overall.
Melanoma is one of the most aggressive cancers with no proven or consistent treatment for cure. We all have cancer cells in our body throughout our lifetime but most peoples immune system can manage them. For some reason my immune system isn't capable. Lifetime risk for Americans having skin cancer is currently 1 in 70 people. Upon my diagnosis in February 2010 the clinical stage of my cancer was stage IIIa.
Harvey & Erica Braden
Journal of our journey with a Metastatic Melanoma Diagnosis. Erica was diagnosed Stage 3 in January 2010 and then Stage 4 in April 2018.