Skin Cancer Survivor Chelsea

“As human beings we are programmed in such a way that when something bad happens, we can never quite believe that it’s happening to ourselves,” begins Dr Stanley Green, an expert in skin cancer at Specialist Clinics of Australia.

He continues, “Especially, when it comes to serious diseases, such as cancer. The sad truth is that these tragedies have no mercy and they target everybody.”

This traumatic experience cast a shadow over the life of Chelsea who was diagnosed with Stage III Melanoma in 2011. Chelsea has put up a wonderful fight with the disease and has been inspiring people around the globe ever since.

Meet Chelsea

Chelsea started writing her blog, Adventures With My Enemy Melanoma, to help her deal with the challenge of skin cancer. Her story about how she discovered her skin cancer while she was doing the dishes highlights just how a simple thing as a back scratch can change your life within seconds.

“I’m doing my least favourite chore, washing dishes. I have an itch, scratch my back, and notice a rough spot that I have never felt. I stroll over to my husband. He looks, pulls me down for a closer inspection, and suggests maybe I should have a dermatologist check it out just to be safe.”

It is important to do regular skin checkups. Having someone close scan your skin is good, but having a doctor doing it is much better. “Moles and other skin marks may come and go throughout your lifetime, so it might not be that easy to recognise the dangerous marks,” says Dr Green.

Underestimating the problem

Underestimating the problem is a common reaction. We tend to think that it’s just “something” and we quickly succumb to the Skin-Cancer-Typesfast pace of our lives.

Chelsea set a doctor’s appointment three days after noticing a new development on her back. “The day before my appointment, the spot has healed. I figured, I must have scratched my back. I will just cancel the appointment and head home for the Christmas holiday a few hours earlier. Beat the traffic.”

However, her husband insisted that she book an appointment. “What can it hurt? I’m a beach loving girl who happens to be covered in moles. Might be a good idea,” writes Chelsea.

A couple of weeks later, Chelsea heard the verdict: malignant melanoma. She had 4 separate spots to remove lymph nodes, as well as,”…a large area of skin from my back was just the beginning,” writes Chelsea.

Don’t let your world crumble down

Chelsea’s blog is deeply emotional. She has put up a brave face from the very beginning to the point that she was the one comforting her doctor instead of the other way around.

“A part of me suspected that the cancer was elsewhere [in my body] since it was already in my lymph nodes. I have to come to terms with it myself before the oncologist confirms it; otherwise, I am scared of my reaction,” writes Chelsea.

However, even putting the best “fake smile” on her face in front of the doctor, Chelsea, just like everyone else, needed to accept the new reality: “I am so tired. I am so scared. I am so determined. I will keep my positive attitude,” writes Chelsea.

The battle never ends

Having lived through years of stress and worries, Chelsea doesn’t consider herself to be a “cancer survivor.” Instead, she insists that it’s an ongoing struggle and that she survives everyday.

“I’ve sat half naked on a cold exam room when the dermatologist mumbled those two words, ‘it’s melanoma’,” writes Chelsea. “I spent a month recovering from a brutal surgery only to have a more invasive surgery a month later that kept me in the hospital for 4 nights. I knowingly signed up for a 3 year clinical trial involving a placebo and a drug the doctors didn’t know all that much about for stage 3 patients, and I FINISHED the 3 year clinical trial with only a few bad memories.”

“I am surviving,” writes Chelsea. “Every new mole, every swollen lymph node. Every 3 months with the oncologist and dermatologist, we do what needs to be done to make sure we keep one step ahead of melanoma.”

“Dealing with skin cancer is a long process and as with everything, it’s easier to prevent than cure,” says Dr Green. Staying out of the sun, taking care of your skin and doing a regular skin checkups are important factors in keeping out of skin cancer’s way.

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