Re: Amelanotic Melanoma
I'm happy to hear it sounds as if your cancer was caught in time. I had a melanoma in 2007 - just past 5 years a few days ago! - and I was staged at IB. Melanoma in situ is a very good diagnosis - it means there really wasn't any spread/growth at all.
Your aftercare is very typical. I had to see my derm every 3 months for 3 years, and then every 6 months for the next 2 years. Now it will be once a year for the rest of my life.
As far as melanoma returning? Well, the unfortunate news is that there have been many individuals who have had melanoma in situ or melanoma that was staged at IA or IB who discovered it returned 5, 10, or 15 years later after having no evidence of the disease during that time. What determines that? I've no idea, and neither do research scientists. For some reason, in some individuals, melanoma can lie dormant in certain individuals for years, and then suddenly strike. I've known individuals who had melanoma, stage IA, had a wide excision, did all the aftercare, and thought all was fine. Then, 7 - 10 years after their diagnosis, melanomas rears its ugly head, and they are suddenly stage III or stage IV melanoma. Others have melanoma, have it removed, do the aftercare, and are fine the rest of their lives. It's the nature of this beast. It's also one of the reasons why the Red Cross doesn't accept melanoma survivors for blood donations.
What can you do? Do what your doctors tell you do. Do your own monthly skin checks. Use sun screen and practice sun safety. Get to know your body - you are your own best advocate! And most important of all? Live your life!! Don't allow cancer to make a victim of you! Trust me, you can find yourself sitting for hours or days worrying about this crap and thinking, "What if...?" Don't - it will drive you crazy. Take hold of your life and live it every single day in every single way!