When you get a call, like I did, from your spouse telling you his dermatologists thinks he has melanoma, the first 5 things you should do are:
Your spouse will tell you everything you need to know initially. What the doctor thinks the stage is (Melanoma is gauged in stages 1,2,3,4). No one will know for
sure without a biopsy, but they have a pretty good idea.
No matter what the stage, it will have an initial distressing effect. In my case,
my husband’s doctor thought it was Stage 4.
After you have the facts, there are things you yourself can do. Even if it’s a speck, melanoma is a very serious, sometimes life-threatening disease, so you will want to consider No. 2. If it is a disturbing diagnosis, you will definitely want to
go to No. 2.
2. CALL ANYONE YOU KNOW WHO HAS HAD SKIN CANCER OR KNOWS SOMEONE WHO HAS HAD SKIN
If your friend has experienced it first hand (in the family), you will get valuable answers to the question “What do I do?”
The answers I got ranged from the hospital where the individual got treatment, the doctor who oversaw the treatment, the opinion of that treatment, where else the person got treated, the doctor who oversaw that treatment the opinion of that treatment, and any cancer organizations and/or websites you can go to learn about this disease.
This is the most important single task you will do. And you are just beginning.
You want to learn everything you can learn, because you never know what you will find that may help.
American Cancer Society
AAD (American Academy of Dermatology)
Institutes of Health – Skin Cancer
From one of these sources … friends, cancer organizations, internet, you will find treatment centers near where you live.
4. AFTER THE DIAGNOSIS HAS BEEN CONFIRMED
At some point, you’re going to join your spouse at the doctor’s office. At this point, you will ask for a recommended Oncologist (preferably an expert in skin
Cancer, but not absolutely necessary).
After a course of action has been suggested, immediately find another top
medical center and doctor for a Second Opinion. And there is nothing in the
world wrong with getting a third.
Your spouse and you consider options. Sometimes there will be more
than one option. This can be extremely anxiety provoking. There is no easy
way to deal with this. You can pray, you can ask advice, but ultimately you and
your spouse (or if your spouse is comfortable, he’ll make his own decision) will
have to come to a decision.
No matter which way you go, who decides what, sometimes there is no sure
5. AFTER THE TREATMENT
As long as there’s another day of life, and when life is at stake, you must continue researching. Researching will be your best friend.
And if you don’t like the way your doctor is handling things, or maybe he’s not showing enough interest with your spouse’s questions, or your questions, or what to do next, or anything that doesn’t feel right to you, get another doctor!
Difficult as it is, we changed doctors 3 or more times. His second dermatologist
overlooked missed something so staggeringly major, I almost fainted when I discovered it. At least ten serious actions came to my mind regarding that doctor, but time and energy was needing for taking the next step.
I honestly don’t remember through what source … the paper, a person, a friend, told me about a doctor back east who, when appropriate, imported a drug from France that was going through trials that matched my husband’s circumstances.
The doctor back east studied our “case”, and agreed to send the drug.