Experiences of melanoma
Katie Taylor's Mum's Experience
Katie Taylor: 29.12.92 - 17.06.08
Katie was a lively, full of character, bubbly, extra-ordinary non-tantruming teenage girl. She was incredibly talented, both at school, always finding it easy to memorise information, with an fantastic sense of fun, easy to talk to or just be quiet with - she was just our Katie.
They do say you don't know what you've got till it's gone - and nothing strikes that message home more than the loss of this amazing person. A popular girl from being a toddler to a teenager, she adored her animals, Faith the Great Dane, Jed the corn snake, and Whisper her beloved horse. Katie was a well rounded girl, both physically and mentally, always comfiest in jeans, jodhpurs and tee-shirts, and never happier than nattering with her mates or being out in the fields with Whisper.
When Katie was 13 (April 2006) she found a mole on her left leg had started to irritate her - over the course of the night she scratched it so badly it bled, so the following evening I took her to the doctors to ask if he could remove it - to my shock he referred her to Derby Children's hospital for a biopsy. The mole was removed and sent away, two weeks later we had the results. We were told - "It was cancerous, but its been removed - you had a cancer but its ok - now its gone, your fine. You'll have to have 3 monthly checkups just as a matter of precaution but don't worry about them because....YOU'RE FINE".
The 3 monthly checkups came and went, Katie annoyed with the intrusion into her life, making her miss an afternoon of school every 3 months ( I did say she was extra-ordinary - not a swot but she loved being with her mates at school) - she was embarrassed by this middle aged male doctor prodding and poking her when she'd been told she was fine, but still we made her go.
One check-up was in July 2007, the next one would have been October, however 2 weeks into the new school year Katie found a lump in her groin. This time the melanoma was in her lymph glands. Groin dissection followed, and then weeks or agonizing healing. Finally the groin healed and the vac-suction pump and all wrappings, paddings, and bandages removed - Katie was back.
Over Christmas she had aches in her good leg, behind the knee - nothing was found; then more aches and pains. January saw interferon started and stopped after 3 weeks as the side effects were too bad for her to cope with. Finally a scan showed hot spots all over her body.
By June 2008, after a long and hard struggle our beautiful daughter had had enough - by now the melanoma had spread from one small mole, nothing special or big, not unsightly or black, just looking like a normal mole into a cancer called Malignant Melanoma which had ravaged her body and mind so severely, eating into her spine, bowel, bladder, liver, lungs, kidneys, spleen, ribs, shoulder blades, skull and the final straw - her brain.
Not once during this horrendous struggle had any medical person offered us any advice or guidance, support or where to look for more information - this service is much needed as not only does Melanoma affect its victim, it also destroys the life of the victims family.
Once we had a very close family, maybe too perfect, a mum, a dad, and two children. Now we have a mum, a dad, a son and a grave. If you have a mole you are worried about in any way, go and get it checked, don't be fobbed off for a month to see what happens - look at Katies story - this is what happens. Melanoma isn't choosy about who it attacks, when or where.