Our Family’s Melanoma Scare

I’ve partnered with Chiquita bananas to bring you this blog post. As always, thank you for supporting Carrots ‘N’ Cake!

Cancer touches so many lives and my family is no exception. That’s why I’m proud partner with Chiquita for their Pink Sticker campaign. Throughout October, Chiquita’s familiar Blue Sticker is going pink to encourage action from millions of consumers in the fight against breast cancer and to highlight the brand’s dedication to the American Cancer Society’s mission to save lives, a goal that is very important to me.

When I was 38 weeks pregnant with Quinn, Mal was diagnosed with melanoma. Prior to that, he had had couple of skin cancer scares, but, thankfully, nothing serious. I was always on the lookout for suspicious spots – and since Mal couldn’t easily see his back, I was more than willing to stay on top of it. The few times that Mal saw his dermatologist, he’d always return home with a “clean bill of health.” Unfortunately, this scare was different.

The offending melanoma on his back changed size and shape quickly. In fact, it changed so quickly, Mal’s doctor made a comment that he was especially glad we got him in for an appointment as soon as we did. The melanoma actually progressed to a Stage 1A melanoma (and cancer runs in Mal’s family), so his doctor was concerned it may have spread to his lymph nodes or other sites.

In addition to removing the melanoma from his lower back (a 5-inch incision), Mal also had to have surgery to remove a number of lymph nodes from his groin area. As you can imagine, recovery was not fun. Mal was basically out of commission for nearly a week. Moving around and even standing at times was quite painful because of the location of the lymph node removal. It was definitely a stressful time for us – obviously, waiting for the results, but also hoping that I wouldn’t go into labor. (I was 40 weeks pregnant at this point.)

In the end, everything worked out just fine. The melanoma was successfully removed and did not spread to other parts of Mal’s body. He fully recovered in time for Quinn’s arrival at 41 weeks. Since then, we’ve been even more diligent about checking for skin cancer – both at home and with regular doctor’s visits. Since Quinn’s birth, Mal has had at least a half dozen more suspicious moles removed, but, thankfully, none of them have progressed to something serious because of our diligence.

When it comes to cancer prevention, there’s only so much self-examination you can do, so we also make sure to follow the American Cancer Society’s recommendations and include good nutrition, daily physical activity, and healthy lifestyle habits into our everyday lives to help reduce our risk of cancer.

As part of our goal to stay healthy, we eat healthy, and that means we are often reaching for fresh veggies and fruits, including Chiquita bananas, which are most definitely a favorite in the Haupert household. So much, in fact, we’re often fighting over the last ones of the bunch at the end of the week! We should probably just start buying more, right? 😉

When you think of bananas, you probably think of Chiquita. But Chiquita also wants you to think of your breast health. The more than 200 million pink stickers that can be found worldwide on Chiquita bananas through October are meant to serve as a simple reminder about the importance of eating healthy, donating, signing up for a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer® walk, or getting recommended screenings. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women in the United States and one of the five most common types of cancer worldwide (skin cancer being the most common). Early detection with breast cancer, just as it is with skin cancer, is crucial.

Throughout the month, be sure to keep a look out for Chiquita bananas featuring a pink sticker at your local grocery store and support such an important cause.

Question of the Day

Have you or a family member ever had a breast or skin cancer scare?

 

21 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing about melanoma. Skin cancer runs in my family. Recently, my husband found out that a wart-like growth on his leg is skin cancer. It was removed last week and we are waiting on the pathology report. What was so unusual about his growth was that it was white and looked just like a wart. I never knew skin cancer could be white. I go every year for a skin check and thankfully, so does my husband.

  2. Thank you for sharing this story. What a scary thing indeed. I’m glad it didn’t spread anywhere as well. I need to be more vigilant of checking as well as reminding my family members to check as well.

  3. Was surprised to see this as part of an ad. To be honest, it made it hard to read. I just had a major surgery on my face to take care of my skin cancer and I guess I just wouldn’t be at the point to be able to associate it with bananas. But im really glad Mal is okay. So scary.

  4. I know this well. An older friend of mine is a sun worshipper and had a large basal cell area removed from her forearm last year. Another gym friend of mine, her husband just got cleared from melanoma which had spread to the lymph nodes in his armpit. I myself had a mole remarked on by my gynecologist and found cancerous cells when I went to the dermatologist. Getting checked is one of the easiest methods for fast therapy!

  5. Yes, my grandmother has had several cancers removed. I’ve had several moles removed because of their cancerous potential. I grew up in Florida in the sun, but learned it’s not worth the risk for a nice tan, taking precautions like wearing sunblock and a hat are so important. And checking your skin and seeing a dermatologist regularly if your at risk.
    Good blog post!

  6. I could do a PSA on Melanoma. This past February my beautiful 29 year old Daughter was diagnosed with stage 3 Melanoma. She had a large surgery with groin lymph nodes removed which one came back positive. She gets monthly Immunotherapy infusions at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Mn. I’m grateful for her Melanoma team there. This past September my husband went in to get a mole removed and it was Stage 1 Melanoma, he didn’t need lymph nodes removed- thankfully caught early. Sunscreen, sunscreen , sunscreen and monitor your skin. …..and lastly to really stop and take the time to smell the roses ( or whatever you find beautiful or enjoyable) everyday of your life.

  7. Thank you for sharing and so glad to hear Mal is ok. It is so helpful to spread awareness about this cancer that effects so many young people. My sister was diagnosed with stage 2B melanoma at age 27 ten years ago. She also had lymph nodes removed from her armpit and a chunk of skin the size of a softball removed from her abdomen. Her mole was a new black mole that started to itch and bleed. Now we get annual skin checks by a dermatologist.

  8. Melanoma is scary and, unfortunately, I think most people still forget about skin cancer. My mom was diagnosed with melanoma when I was a young teenager (also on her back, like Mal’s). I didn’t really understand the implications at that time, but luckily hers had not spread and was easily removed. I look just like my mom and we are at a high risk for melanoma (very fair skin) so I take extreme measures to stay safe in the sun and I’ve never been in a tanning bed. I’m glad to hear that this ended well for Mal and I appreciate a brand like Chiquita bringing awareness to breast cancer (and really all cancer). This is a good reminder of the importance of living a healthy lifestyle to help prevent cancer.

  9. Melanoma is so scary! My Masters Thesis was regarding detecting single melanoma cells and I became very aware of all my moles. My dad’s side of the family has had several benign skin cancer finds. They are all very fair skinned with red hair as kids and spent their childhood outside, so you can see the affects of not wearing sunscreen now. My mom is Korean and always wears a hat, long sleeves and sunscreen. On the superficial side, you have my mom who has amazing skin and on the scary side, you have my dad who has had to have several moles removed. My husband used to resist putting on sunscreen because he didn’t like the way it felt (greasy). So I would just put some one his face so he’d have to rub it in. Now after having 3 moles removed, he willingly puts on sunscreen everyday. Also, I’d like to point out that even if you don’t burn, everyone should wear sunscreen. A high school friend was diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 23. She was Brazilian and was always tan. Sadly after 3 years of fighting she passed away at the age of 27. I’m glad that Mal has fought and won against his battle!

  10. Next month I am having Mohs surgery to remove a basal cell carcinoma from my nose. It started out just looking like dry skin and would get a tiny little drop of blood after a shower. So not something that is not immediately as recognizable as skin cancer unless you know what to look for. I mentioned it to my dermatologist mostly hoping for a sample of some anti aging cream or something but I ended up getting it frozen 3 separate times and using chemo cream 3 times and it kept coming back. Because I have such a small face and the spot is so large, a plastic surgeon is going to have to be the one who closes it up and he’s going to have to take a patch of skin from between my eyebrows to use to rotate down to cover my nose. Isn’t that crazy? Just a little dry patch on my nose with a tiny drop of blood occasionally after a shower and its going to require plastic surgery! Go get checked people!

    1. @Alex: Hi Alex, my mom has something similar 6 years ago to what you’re having done . She had basal cell on her nostril and had the Mohs procedure done to remove it and then went to a plastic surgeon to have her nostril reconstructed. Hope all goes well with your procedure.

    2. @Alex: Alex, I had Moh’s surgery last year on my upper lip. It really, truly wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It has healed SO well that sometimes people are shocked when I point it out. I had a plastic surgeon close it up too… you are very smart!

  11. Both my husband and I have skin cancer in our family. I’ve had a melanoma and my dermo caught it early. She actually didn’t even think it was something but she said lets test it anyway. Surprisingly it was. My father had melanoma on his face and had to have surgery a couple times to remove. I actually had to go back for more removal too. AND, my FIL died of melanoma. You are so smart for checking Mal’s back for him! That’s what got my FIL. He had a spot on his back and it grew and grew. One day it started bleeding and it wouldn’t stop. He drove himself to urgent care without even telling my MIL (she had no clue about the issue at all). Long and short he had stage 4 Melanoma and it had spread. He passed away within a year. If he would have gone to the doctor earlier, he would still be here today. He just wasn’t a doctor person. Sooooo important to be checked and it’s so great that you have your eye on Mal.
    Also, want to say how sorry I am that you all had to go through that scare and especially at the time of Quinn’s impending arrival! Glad all turned out well.

  12. Thanks for sharing. Glad Mel is okay and that you’re all on top of it! My grandma, mom and sister have all had melanoma spots removed, but luckily none of them have spread. Over the past couple years, I’ve become very diligent about going to the derm annually and staying on top of healthy skincare habits. As someone who worshiped the sun through her teens and most of twenties (I literally had a membership to a tanning salon in college… WTH!?), I’m freaked out I’ll get melanoma. I have a two-year old (and am expecting our second) and ever since becoming a mom, I’ve been so much more aware (and paranoid) about my (and my family’s) health. Taking preventive measures is so, so important and I pray it will help me detect anything suspicious.

  13. thank God Mal is ok!!! terrifying, but i’m so glad it turned out fine (after treatment of course!).
    i’ve had 4 basal cell carcinomas areas removed and 3 or 4 suspicious moles, caught before they became melanotic. its certainly scary, and the thing that gets me is they were/are so preventable. i was just a sun worshiping girl growing up, and to be honest, i still LOVE the sun. just being MUCH better about sunscreen nowadays.

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