My Journey as an African-American Woman Diagnosed With Melanoma

tonyafamilyOn June 17th, my day started off as usual. I was fiddling around the house preparing for my doctor’s appointment at 11:45 a.m. My spirits were good. I was a little nervous, but I was in a good place. I had some test results due back that kind of had me a tad bit worried.

When I arrived at the doctor’s office, I began to feel uneasy once I sat down in the room; but I was sure whatever the outcome, God already had it under control. My doctor came in, sat quietly and told me that my test results came back positive for stage 3 melanoma–cancer.

I looked in disbelief and asked, “How can a 42 year old African-American woman have skin cancer?” I’m mixed with a few things, but none of them is Caucasian. I took in what she said and left the room with a strong face until I saw my sweet friend waiting for me in the waiting area. That’s when I lost it.

All I could think of was my children, my husband, my awesome circle, and how this would affect them. I didn’t once think of myself. I was uncertain about this disease and how it would or could be treated—and how it would treat my body. I had to schedule an appointment at the Massey Cancer Center for the following week to meet my oncologist and his team.

I began to weep; not for me, but for everyone else who would be directly affected by my diagnosis. I had a talk with the kids and a few others and of course we cried and comforted each other. After that, I made them all promise me that these were the last tears we would shed over this. They all have kept their promise.

I had so many questions I wanted answered right then so to the internet I went—the worse mistake I ever could have made. Don’t ever try and answer those questions about something like this online; wait for your doctor’s visit. A lot of sleepless nights went by and then off to the Massey Cancer Center I went. From the moment I stepped through the doors, everyone was so loving, caring and genuinely concerned about me. The visit with my oncologist confirmed the diagnosis and all of my questions were answered.

My cancer was caught just in time–to God be the glory! Things could have been very different if I had waited another year. He assured me even though I will always have the diagnosis of cancer, he will work hard to cure me. I will have to endure surgery and a few other treatments. My road for this journey will be long, but I will be alright. I went from thinking, “Why me?!” to “Why not.”

I have good days and bad. My beautiful head of hair is no more and I can’t be in the sun for long periods of time. But you know what? That’s all fine with me. I can tolerate all of that. Why? Because I have an awesome support system full of people who love me. I have an amazing husband and brother that constantly tell me how beautiful I am (with or without hair). I have four absolutely amazing children that keep me laughing and the sweetest granddaughter that keeps me on my toes.

Please know that African-Americans can in fact be diagnosed with skin cancer. It is so important to be aware of any changes in your skin and act sooner rather than later. It may save your life.

If sharing my story will help even one person to realize and believe as I do that, “Cancer will not handle me, I’m handling it!” then it was well worth it. Remember–we control our fates, but only God can decide what our destiny will be.