Nasty Melanoma 10-14-14

The dreaded yearly skin test….my first at MD Anderson was on May 29th of this year. I had been checked several times in years past by a dermatologist near my hometown and was told everything looks great! When Dr. Sharon Hymes, whom I had seen before at MD Anderson Melanoma and Skin Center for graft vs host skin issues, came into the room and looked at my makeup and concealer free face, she instantly started asking me about the spot on my left cheek. She had questions…how long had it been there? Several years. How long has it been two-toned? I don’t know because I have used bleaching creams and thought only part of the spot responded. She told me we needed a biopsy.

This seemingly innocent, annoying “age spot” was about the size of a pencil eraser. It was completely flat and smooth. The top half of the spot was a darker brown than the bottom light brown or golden color. When I asked Dr. Hymes what she was suspicious of and she told me melanoma, I was shocked! This spot was nothing like I imagined a melanoma to look like! I pictured a melanoma to be dark, purplish, blackish, globby, irregular.

So a biopsy was done. The top darker part of the spot was “shaved” and sent to the lab. The rest of my skin test went well, thank goodness! Now it was the waiting…do I really have melanoma? What if it isn’t contained? What will my face look like? I’m a stem cell transplant survivor…do I really have melanoma? Here is a photo after the biopsy had partially healed. I don’t have a good close up of the spot before the biopsy.


A few days later, I got the call, and it was melanoma in situ, lentigo maligna type. I was set up for an excision with Dr. Valencia Thomas at the MD Anderson MOHs and Dermasurgery Unit. Dr. Hymes had presented my case at the dermatopathology faculty conference and it was decided that my melanoma was not a candidate for MOHs surgery. These faculty conferences at MDA are an awesome thing! Several top notch doctors discuss and decide the best possible treatment.

I instantly loved Dr. Thomas! Besides her excellent credentials (Harvard, Harvard Med School, numerous awards and honors, and the list goes on!), she is caring, compassionate, funny, professional, and an excellent surgeon. She took a lot of time explaining melanoma, the flap excision surgery, and the healing process. The actual excision went quickly. But she spent some time suturing! She is really really good with a needle and thread! This photo was right after she sewed me up.


I had very little pain, just soreness. A week later I went to the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Dermatology and MOHs clinic to have my sutures removed by Dr.Ikue Shimizu. She had done a Fellowship at MD Anderson under Dr. Thomas 2 years ago. Dr. Thomas was very confident with her removing my sutures and Lubbock is only 100 miles away verses Houston at 650 miles. Dr. Shimizu was great! The suture removal went very well. I was happy to get rid of them!

Everything progressed nicely until I developed a large purple bump on my incision. It got larger and larger and I could no longer resist popping it! The nurse had told me that the inside sutures sometimes work their way out before they are dissolved and I thought this was happening. It turned out to be a spitting suture. I had emailed Dr. Thomas a photo of it and she put me on doxycycline and told me it would resolve. It did! Evidently I had a reaction to the suture material. She emailed me a research paper she had written about spitting sutures. The photos in the paper looked just like my bump!

Two weeks ago I went to see Dr. Thomas for my follow up check up. I’m still having a reaction to those inside sutures. She gave me a shot into the incision site where I have 2 knots or bumps to see if they resolve. On Nov. 10th I will see her again and more than likely have another surgery on the incision. The spitting suture and the bumps have caused the incision not to heal properly. She assured me that when we are all finished and healed, it will look just like my other cheek! She truly is amazing and brilliant and I have complete confidence in her! I will post a photo and follow up after I am completely healed! Here is a photo of me and beautiful Dr. Thomas two weeks ago at my follow up appointment. Even with the suture problems, my incision looks better than I ever expected it to look!


Bottom line…I am so thankful that I saw Dr. Hymes and that the melanoma was contained and had not spread. I am so thankful for Dr. Thomas and her excellence as a surgeon. Please get your annual skin checks and wear sun screen. I will get skin checks every 6 months now, and I will go happily! I’m a survivor! Most importantly, I’m a survivor because of the best Doctors at the #1 Cancer Center, MD Anderson! I can do this!!!!!

20 thoughts on “Nasty Melanoma 10-14-14

  1. Gay says:

    Two beautiful ladies!

  2. Denise Teel says:

    You are still as beautiful as ever. If we had only know the long term affects of all that fun we had as kids.

  3. sloppyjo15 says:

    I don’t remember how I stumbled upon your blog, but after reading your latest post, I’m so happy I did. I enjoy reading you because your positive attitude is combined with a genuine intelligence. You’re my appointed role model as I am a newbie to MDA and cancer (AML). Thank you, beautiful Holly!

    • hollyeasley says:

      Thank you so much for your kind comments! I truly am honored! I wish you the very best with your treatments. I would be happy for you to contact me if I can help you in any way.
      Please keep me posted! Keep looking forward, chin up, and fake it until you make it! Big love, Holly

  4. Linda block says:

    You look absolutely beautiful! Continued prayers for
    you sweet friend.

  5. Becky says:

    Thanks for posting this Holly. First of all, you continue to look radiant and it is difficult to believe that you have ever been sick 🙂 But also, as I told you at convention, it is a true encouragement to see that I might have my procedure and potentially come away looking ok. Because you look great! Love you missy!

    • hollyeasley says:

      Thank you dear friend! You are so sweet to me! And I love you! You are going to rock this thing and be your beautiful self ! Next convention we will kick up our heels and celebrate!

  6. rap55 says:

    Dearest Holly,

    Words cannot express how thankful I am that you are under the care of such exceptional doctors.

    I am sending you a huge hug across the ocean!

  7. hollyeasley says:

    Rosanna, words can not express how thankful I am for you! I enjoyed your phone call this afternoon more than you know! Thank you! It made my day! Miss you so much!

  8. Cindy weatherly says:

    Oh Holly, you are such an inspiration! You will always be beautiful. Our daughter Shayla that beat breast cancer is having her second surgery on melanoma on her leg! This ugly cancer just keeps raring it’s ugly head, but our God is bigger! God bless you and keep you!

    • hollyeasley says:

      Thank you Cindy! I am so sorry to hear that Shayla has melanoma. She is such a warrior! Everything we have already gone through makes us stronger! I will pray for her! God bless you Cindy!

  9. Jonnie Williams says:

    My goodness, Holly, what an encouragement you are to so many.. I’m so proud of you ( always have been), and see how you reach out and help people deal with new words and treatments. It’s overwhelming when you are hit with so much, so fast, and you walk them through it. A word from you can mean so much. Keep after it sweet one. Love you.

  10. sheilagreen says:

    We are survivors! So glad they were able to get clear margins.

  11. We never know what life is going to throw at us. Glad you have a big bat, great attitude, lots of supportive family and friends, and good doctors. God is good!

  12. hollyeasley says:

    That’s true Suzanne! I’ve been blessed!

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