When I was diagnosed with Stage III melanoma at age 23, I faced an onslaught of emotions: frustration that it took two misdiagnoses and 10 valuable months to get the diagnosis; shock that this could happen to me, when I was young, healthy, and alert to the risks of skin cancer; and, of course, fear of what was to come.
Even in difficult times, though, I’ve always been a pretty upbeat, glass-half-full kind of gal. I think that may be why it would surprise friends and family when I’d bring up the less pleasant things that melanoma might mean for me down the road. Although we expected the upcoming surgeries to remove all detectable cancer, there was a significant chance of it reappearing as Stage IV. Only 20 percent of Stage IV patients survive five years, a steep drop from the (already discouraging) 60 percent rate I’ve been assigned at Stage III.