gallamore west: Life's not always a party... I had cancer.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Life's not always a party... I had cancer.

This post is big deal for me.  

A really HUGE deal actually because it's about something that only a few people know because that's the way I wanted it.  It's been a secret that I chose to only share with my immediate family and a very small circle of friends.  

Forever friends who...

-said just what I needed to hear
-watched my kids on a moment's notice
-put an extra car seat in their car in case I couldn't get to school to pick up Sam
-delivered my favorite candy bar, jokes, and Dr. Pepper to my doorstep
-brought over many, many delicious meals
-drove 5 hours and called saying "Wanna go to breakfast?  I'm here." {LOVE that girl!}
-sent handmade cards in the mail
and so many more amazing things that I will forever be grateful for.

All I really wanted was to be a regular pregnant mama, experiencing all the excitement and anticipation of expecting a baby.  A baby whose name had been chosen years earlier, Luke. A baby who was in my heart long before he was in my belly.

But what I was in reality was a pregnant mama with cancer.   Just 12 days before Luke was born, my dermatologist called to tell me that the mole my OB/GYN thought needed to be checked out was Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.  When I asked him if I could wait a month or so before removing the margins around the mole {that had been removed already for a biopsy} he said NO.  I learned the scary facts about Melanoma from goggling it a couple of days later.  Someone in the U.S. dies from it every single hour.  And it surely was NOT going to be me.

So, those last 12 days before Luke's arrival were filled with Dr. appts, as we scrambled to find a general surgeon who could do the surgery at the same time as Luke's scheduled c-section.  And the last 5 or so days before Luke's arrival I spent in bed, eating way too many Oreos and trying to keep from going into labor because we did indeed find a general surgeon who was able to do the surgery on the same morning as Luke's scheduled c-section.  

And right after this picture was taken...
my sweet baby boy and husband went off to the nursery while I stayed on that operating table to remove any remaining cancer, which thankfully had all been contained in the original mole.  But they don't know that until they get a good margin around it, so now I have a "shark bite" scar {as my dermatologist calls it} across my stomach.

All I had wanted to be was a regular pregnant mama, and once he was born I just wanted to go through all the regular stuff you go through right after having a baby.  I yearned to just be able to stay home and cuddle him, without thinking of what was on the calendar for the next day.  But because I had so many Dr. appts. {between the OB, general surgeon, dermatologist, and Luke's pediatrician, we had 10 appts. in 17 days, each on separate days} I was anything but a regular mom.  Every time I went to an appointment, the ladies at the front desk already knew all about me.  I could tell that they had talked about me before I got there.  I was "that poor girl" that they felt sorry for. One even told me about how they had talked all about me, and I wanted to shrink into the corner of the waiting room.

So, why am I telling you now?

Because it's almost May and May is National Melanoma Awareness Month and I want everyone to know what to look for.  I was lucky that I was pregnant with Luke.  


Yes, I was lucky because I was seeing a Dr. regularly who noticed the changes in that mole and referred me right away to the dermatologist.  Had I not been pregnant, I know that I wouldn't have hurried to the dermatologist like I did.

So my friends {especially you fair-skinned, sun-loving ones like I used to be} here are the ABC's... ABCDE's actually of what to look for in a mole:
A=asymmetrical, one side unlike the other half
B=borders, irregular, scalloped or undefined
C=color, varying shades from one area to another; shades of tan & brown; black; sometimes red, blue or white
D= diameter, greater than 6 mm {size of a pencil eraser}
E= evolve, is it changing in any way over time?
If you notice ANY of these ABCDE's of a mole, pretty, pretty please make an appointment with your dermatologist!  And if you say "I don't have one" I'll find one for you :)  

It seriously could save your life.  

photo by
I'm SO grateful for my little lifesaver, Luke.  And I do still even love the sun, but it's more about respect for it now.  You'll still find me outside on a sunny day with my three boys... we'll be the family lathering up our SPF 5000 under an umbrella wearing hats from now on.

So that's my big secret and it really was a BIG deal for me to let it out.  So if you want to leave me a comment, I'd really, really love it :)


Trisha said...

Oh, Laurie! That must have been so scary for you! You are such a brave and strong woman! How much I love you! It makes me nervous...when I was pregnant with Jessie my OB told me to get a mole checked out and I never went...:( I am thinking now that I should make an appointment with a skin doctor asap! Thank you for sharing this!!! Love you!

Natalie said...

Oh my! I cannot even imagine. My heart goes out to you and anybody else dealing with this. I hope your post makes people more aware and thank you so much for sharing! How brave of you!

Dori Delgado said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us! You truely are a brave woman! I'm so happy for you and your family that it was caught early and that they were able to get it before it spread!!
Love, Dori

Reyna said...

Laurie thank you for sharing this. I had no idea and am happy that you have recovered. I am really good about putting sunscreen on the kids with all their sports. As a RN I should be better about myself but the truth is IAM NOT. After reading your story I will make sure and take better care of myself. Love you and thanks again for sharing you are truly an inspiration.

Leeann Taylor said...

Thanks for sharing, it truly is a scary thing. The Taylor family has been touched with the same scary situation, but it was John and not me. The sad thing was that when John first showed me, in ignorance I said oh I'm sure it's nothing.....can you believe that! Thank goodness he didn't listen to me (not the first or last of that I might and had it checked out! Raelee was 2 months old and as I researched it online, I began to read how serious it was. But thankfully John's had also been caught early , but to this day I check his back each month....(10 years later) and still no signs of any melanoma...:) We are also a sunscreen loving family!!!!! You are an amazing and strong woman!

Jen said...


What more can I say?

The Jenson's said...

Even though I already knew all of this hearing it again brought tears to my eyes. You went through so much with little Luke and I'm so happy the Dr. said get it removed Now.
I've had two moles removed "just in case" and one was right after having Zach (right above my boob, while nursing) lucky for me they came back negative.
Everyone should always check!!

S said...

What a caring, sharing story. Thank you for speaking out, sharing and heloing others.
I have been lucy, but my grandmother had several moles removed as well, all of them limited to the mole itself and she lived into her 90s. I remember the years of being forced to wear a t-shirt in the sun and while i hated it then, they were right, i am grateful now. I keep a close eye on my own moles and my son's. It is always good to have a reminder of the signs.
thanks again

Pamela Hauserman said...

Laurie, all I can think of is how brave you are to post this. Thank you so much. Your personal story will make all of us more vigilant! I was so thankful to read that they got it all. Love you!

Annie said...

Thank you Laurie for sharing! That is my biggest fear and I've been too scared to go to the doctor to checked, but I know I need too. You inspire me to bake cookies and to go to the doc! hehe! I guess I'll call tomorrow. I'm so glad they caught it and you are ok. You're an amazing momma! Your boys are blessed to have you!

Heather said...

I know this was hard to share and even more difficult to experience. Thank you for letting us learn through your experience and example.

And just so you know, you can lather up all you want in sunscreen--YOU will always SHINE as the AMAZING mother, wife & woman that you are Laurie! Thank You!

HeidiAdeleSnyder said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm so happy that the whole Gallamore family made it through that nightmare. Hugs!!!

Anonymous said...

I think I would have kept it private as well. Have you watch the show The Big C? on Showtime? You should. I've had a couple moles removed over the years. My dad had a similar situation you just went through. So scary how quickly your normal life can change. Just yesterday I noticed a skin discoloration on Terry's forehead that had gotten a lot bigger. He of course blows everything off. I am making app't with a dermatologist to to have our bodies inspected this week. Thanks for sharing, it must be relieving to finally get it all out there, and it also reminds people to keep up on their health before it is too late. Lucky little Luke.

Mama Parker said...

Love you Laurie!!! You are an amazing friend, wife & mother. I am proud to know you. Total tears all over again. You are an inpiration in so many ways. <3 <3 <3

Casa Sonrisa said...

Awww, Laurie, we're always here for you, no matter what life brings your way. So glad you're on the uphill now and can add this situation to the testament of the kind of woman you are. <3

The Wallace Clan said...

I completely understand the dream to be a normal pregnant mom. I am so sorry for all you went through. I am so happy that you made it through and chose to share. I pray that you will stay cancer free.

Wallie said...

The ABCDEs are great!!! I will keep these in mind when monitoring my moles. Who knew? All happens for a reason...good thing your Luke came through. :D

**New follower cuz of Ms. Natalie. :)

Microdermabrasion said...

Microdermabrasion treatments can be used to reduce the effects of sun-damaged skin, wrinkles, and age spots. It can also be used to treat oily and acne prone skin, acne scars, blackheads and whiteheads. It can be effective in removing and superficial pigmentation on the skin.

Darcy said...

WOW! You ARE the strongest most amazing Woman/Mom/Wife. I'm proud to call you my friend:)


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