Health advice always benefits from a second opinion

Re: Cancer patient plans for son’s future (News, June 6)

Re: Cancer patient plans for son’s future (News, June 6)

I read with much interest and sadness your article regarding Julia Wolf.

I can relate to her story somewhat as I was diagnosed with melanoma cancer approximately two years after initially inquiring to my GP about a “mole” on my scalp. At the time the “mole” was classified as nothing to worry about as it didn’t display abnormal characteristics.

Two years later I was at a dermatologist’s office on an unrelated matter and just happened to ask him about the “mole,” even though the sign on his door stated that the appointment can only cover one medical issue.

He looked at the “mole” and didn’t express much concern but said he would treat it with nitrogen to remove the “mole” and after three treatments, if it appeared, he would take a biopsy specimen.

After the fourth treatment, the biopsy was taken (five months had elapsed). I was told to book a future appointment in order to receive the results. Upon returning to the dermatologist’s office, three weeks later, I was told that I had stage II malignant melanoma.

The dermatologist was surprised, because like my GP, he did not think the physical characteristics were that of melanoma. Fortunately, following that diagnosis I was placed in the care of an excellent surgeon; have received the necessary surgery and lymph node biopsies completed.

I was lucky and the cancer did not metastasize to other organs. I think the lessons learned here are: don’t take physical anomalies for granted, be a self-advocate when it comes to the medical system, and question, question, question.

It is only through luck I happened to raise the issue of the “mole” to the dermatologist as my initial visit was for an unrelated matter.

Good thing I broke the rules of one medical issue per visit. I fear what could have been the eventual outcome if I had not.

Brian Belcher




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