Keep This Killer at Bay

melanoma***Please note:  While Colleen Kelly Mellor completes her book Patient Witness, documenting her lifetime experience with the health care industry (it’s ‘wicked interesting’ as they say in Rhode Island), she’ll post to biddybytes on Mondays, only…..


Divots on noses…the latest price we Baby Boomers pay for past behavior. Bruce Jenner (of infamous Kardashian clan) managed yet again to capitalize on something awful to ramp up coverage, this week, by saying he ‘had melanoma.’ Social media sites went nuts as others sternly corrected him:  “No, Bruce, you did NOT have melanoma! Not even close. If you did, your nose would be missing.”

See the pic at top of post?  That’s the photo of the usual melanoma. Mine didn’t look anything like this; rather, mine appeared a harmless pink spot.

Latest diagnosis?  Melanoma…the Big M.  I got the scary news recently. Pardon me if I sound annoyed, but at times, I feel as if I’m in some kind of shooting gallery, with me as the target, but as I said recently to a friend:  “Maybe all these things happen because I’m supposed to write about them.” 

Well, write I shall and in this writing, I’ll warn people about what I know.

I go to one of the top-rated dermatologists in the state all because I wooed her. Dr. Lynn Iler wasn’t taking any more patients (booked solid) but because I’d read her favorable ratings (she was in RI Monthly “Top Docs”) I sent her a letter, begging her to take me on, as patient. It worked.

I’d gone to my former dermatologist for 30 years, but he retired—abruptly, and I was left in the lurch. I thought I found another but after an appointment with him, I came away unimpressed. He pooh-poohed suspicious skin areas as ‘nothing.’ When I went to her, she confirmed my suspicions:  The ‘nothings’ were basal cell carcinomas.

You see, I know something about skin problems. I’ve had many basal cell carcinomas, due to serious skin bathing (I was told to do this, in my teens, to counter acne,) and then a dermatologist shot me up with weekly doses of radiation, when I was in my early 20’s—again, to fight acne. In retrospect, the “cures” were worse than the affliction.

But because I’ve had breast cancer, I only put myself in the hands of the best doctors, because I know:  The “nothings” a professional misses might be “somethings” that can kill. This recent diagnosis proves that. 

Had I still been seeing the other doctor, he would have doubtless bypassed a melanoma that didn’t present as typical. Then it would have traveled to other regions of my body on its killing spree. Now, all I’ll have is an approximate 7 inch reminder and the recognition I’m at increased risk for another.

It was a small pink spot on my leg…not even in one of the more exposed areas of my body (the leg’s a prime site for melanoma.) She wasn’t even sure when she looked at it but took a sample anyway (good doctors do that.) The news came back…melanoma.

Next, I went to a surgical oncologist who removed it immediately.

Just as I learned of this new problem, I read an Op-Ed from a Los Angeles-based  surgical oncologist, 30-year-old Travis Kidner who shares his own story of being diagnosed with melanoma. His presented similarly to mine.

This doctor notes a chilling trend. In his practice, he’s removing melanomas from  people in their 20’s, when, in the past, he only ever did that for patients age 40+. He attributes the increase to tanning booths.

He agrees with the new push by the FDA to regulate them. As with cigarette smoking, he agrees there should be notification of risk to consumers.  The FDA wants other aspects checked, too, like “making sure the electrical systems are safe, the lamps emit the right amount of energy and timers are working properly.” He says that as of now, there’s little regulation.

But maybe regs won’t really make a difference, because as many know, tanning is addictive (Tanning Mom—remember?) and once folks gets into that mode, they find it difficult to stop. tanning mom

In the last analysis, melanoma’s not like other skin cancers (basal and squamous cell carcinomas.) Oh, they can kill, too, but melanoma’s the rabid killer.

My dermatologist told me last week that her Physician’s Assistant has diagnosed four or five 20-year-old’s, per week, with melanoma, this past summer.  

My thoughts? Statistics are ignored by sun-worshippers. It’s like global warming that way. People can deny it exists, but the Polar Ice Cap and the bears don’t lie:  There’s a significant climate change underway. 

I’m now a high-risk candidate who’ll need to be screened closely every 6 months.  Fortunately I’m in very good hands….

The need for consumers to identify top doctors is just one of the topics I address in my new book, Patient Witness (soon to be available.)

Now, read this young surgical oncologist’s account of being told this very scary news:  “You’ve got melanoma.” 

***But remember:  His and my melanomas (God, I hate using the possessive ‘my’ this way) didn’t present as typical. This demonstrates all the more reason you need top professionals in your health care team.

Here’s another story about a young Dad diagnosed with melanoma.

Further proof of why Bruce Jenner’s nose divot isn’t melanoma:  See pic below? That’s my recent excision, almost the full width of my leg...Not like Moh’s surgery (where doctors remove as little as possible.)  With melanoma, doctor takes a wide swath of extra tissue.  They don’t leave anything to populate and kill…melanoma wound improved

Now, here’s your question:  “What famous musician died from melanoma that started from an old football injury on his toe?” (Put your answer in “Comment” section) His unusual site proves you can get melanoma anywhere, so check your bod. often–Better, yet, have a good dermatologist check. Melanoma doesn’t just affect fair-skinned people, as is evident with this musician.)

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P.S. The Cover photo? Our 3 grandkids.  We recently went muscadine-picking with them on a cold, blustery, end-of-summer day, on the Cape.  They’re 3 of the reasons I guard my health…I want to be around to continue to enjoy them.


About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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