Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Does Melanoma Hurt?

One neat thing about Blogspot is the ability to track how my readers found their way to my blog.  I’m sure other blogging platforms have the same capability.  I can see from which sites people clicked a link to BITNP.  Most links come from Facebook or other blog sites such as Welcome to the Hotel Melanoma, Attitude of Gratitude,Adventures With My Enemy…Melanoma, or Strong-Enough.  However, sometimes the sites seem a little odd (such as “”…if you’re having an affair, be advised that your spouse might be tracing your links!).  Additionally, I can determine which search words in Google led readers to my site.  In most cases, the search words include “black,” “pink,” or “melanoma.”  Again, once in a while I have an odd series of words or a phrase pop up.  And then sometimes, it catches my eye for another reason.  The other day, the following phrase appeared:

Does Melanoma Hurt?

I have to wonder why someone typed those words.  Could it be that they have a friend, family or loved one that has melanoma and this person is just too scared to ask such questions?  Or perhaps this person was recently diagnosed with melanoma and trying to see what he/she can expect.  It seems like a naïve question, but I imagine there’s a deeper reason for the search.

As for the answer…well, as I’ve stated before, I don’t have melanoma, so I’m not really qualified to answer.  But it made me think of my brother Jeff and the few times he discussed his condition.

When he was first diagnosed in 2004, he didn’t raise any real alarms.  I would assume it was caught early as he never conveyed to what stage the cancer had progressed.  He…well…merely “had it cut out” and never spoke much more about it again.  All I do remember is that he mentioned the golf-ball sized crater in his back, but no pain associated with cutting it out.

When the beast returned in 2010, Jeff didn’t complain to me much about the pain.  But there was plenty of suffering.  When I visited him three months before he died (only a couple of weeks after his diagnosis), he was bloated from the steroids, bald, required a cane to walk, rapidly losing his eyesight, and having great difficulty with short-term memory (often pausing to recognize me in the middle of a conversation).  He never mentioned the physical pain…but he suffered.  He also had Type II diabetes and he had many complications with his sugar levels.  When he flew to MD Anderson, they had to spend the first 3 or 4 days keeping him from a diabetic coma…the meds had him way out of whack.  He definitely suffered…but I’m not sure about whether or not it hurt.

As for me…I felt great emotional pain during his ordeal.  His widowed wife continues to feel an incredible loss…calling me in tears in the middle of the night even 16 months after his passing and asking me “why?”  My father lost his first born son and while he continues to show me great love, I can see the toll my brother’s death has taken.  For all of us, it has hurt…and continues to hurt.

But again, I can’t answer directly…so I posed the question on Facebook.  And many people responded as such:

“Actually it didn't hurt until the doctor picked up the knife to cut it out...That was last August and when I scratch my back where the scar is it still hurts occasionally.” – Jill

“Yes it hurts! My twin sister has it and it went terminal and surgery is not an option so every day I see her in pain.  She recently lost all her hair and it breaks my heart because there is nothing I can do about it! She has been thru so much just within the last year.   This has spread so quickly and now is on her brain.  But we will keep on fighting this!!!” – Julie

“It hurts every day when I remember my mom, who had melanoma return after being disease free for 13 yrs. first in her foot in 1997, then in her thigh and colon in Dec 2010, then in her brain in May in 2011, passed in Dec 2011...the nastiest cancer there is.....” - Laurie

“I'd take the physical pain over the emotional pain any day.” – Chelsea

So mystery Google reader…if your search for “Does Melanoma Hurt?” continues, I hope it leads you back here to read these comments.  If you or a loved one suffers from this horrible cancer, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
And to answer your question… based on the comments shared…yes, melanoma hurts.


  1. It does; humid days do not help. The edge of the incisions hurt and if you are like me, with skin grafts, yes, they too are bothersome. But like your brother we do not share this too much with our families; sometimes it's easier to let them worry less, yet worry they do. A smile is easier to wear to show them we remain strong.

    I recall when my father battled multiple melanoma, he fought for 6 years, kept hope and hid most of his pain. Prayers to you daddy. <3

    I think we are all the same; and here is where we write our deepest thoughts, sometimes it hurts our families more than it hurts us, because they want to take away the discomforts for us. God we love them don't we?

    But we remain strong, we continue to fight and hold one another's hand in support. "Hope to you all".

  2. Hi Al,
    I didn't answer the facebook question "Does Melanoma hurt?" Like Chelsea mentioned, the emotional pain is the worst. But also, Gigi said, the incisional pain is still there to remind you that you have been in battle. The scars are there to remind us to be ever vigilant. Both physical scars and emotional ones. My incision still hurts one year after surgery (today, March 31st). Especially when it gets cold. Your blog reminds me that I'm terribly remiss in keeping mine up to date. My friend Bobbie with the ocular melanoma - stage 4 - is on the precipise of life ever after. That's been terribly emotionally consuming. Always makes me shudder "will that be me some day?" There again, emotional pain.
    Keep posting and blogging. You touch us, even though you don't have melanoma. Your brother had it, and that's close to your soul.
    Cheers. Carolyn

  3. I have had stage 3 melanoma that was found on the side of my knee and then went to my lymph nodes and had a full lymph node dissection. I have had numerous spots taken of and have had a spot on my ankle that had to have a skin graft. The graft didn't take and took all summer to heal. That was 2 years ago. Now that spot has acing for that last couple of weeks. Maybe longer. I rub on it still hurts.
    Is this anything? I will call my dermatologist about it. I had just gone to see him a few weeks back. I go see him 4 times a year. Just was wondering if anyone else had simular feelings from a spot that was taken off. This spot is 2 inches round. It is also on the outside of my ankle where there is little skin. I just worry because I like having 2 feet.
    Will stay positive. :-)


    1. Before having stage IV melanoma, no, my stage I melanomas never hurt. The surgeries to remove them both did hurt. Both left me with permanent nerve damage; one was on my back and the other along my temple. Because lymph nodes were taken as well, I was cut from above my temple to below my jaw line and now I don't have feeling on my right cheek but there are a few places on my cheek that are hypersensitive and just a stroke from my powder brush feels like a thousand tiny needles piercing my skin.

      Now that I have stage IV I can say Yes, cancer hurts. Tumors press up on nerves, burrow themselves between vertebrae, or wedge themselves between ribs making it painful to breathe - what I've had the pleasure to deals with for the past few days. To add to it, my tumors 'float' around so sometimes out of the blue, I'll go to move my leg, which a minute ago was fine, and be suddenly startled by a sharp pain in a joint that the minute previous was pain free.

      The meds hurt too. Ask anyone who takes Zelboraf and two words come to mind: joint pain. But we take the pain of the medicine because we're told that means its working so you take another Oxy and deal with it.

      I feel sad for the person who searched 'Does melanoma hurt?' because obviously they or someone they care about just joined our club and it's not one that we want any more members in. But thankfully our club has a lot of tables for Fighters and open bar stools for Survivors and there's always something cold on tap :)

  4. YES! Melanoma hurts! It hurts on my back where there was a excision to remove a tumor, small to start but now the skin was stretched, with stitches 6 inches long and nerve endings were cut. It is painful to the touch and if I wiggle my shoulder. It hurts on my calf where there was a excision to remove a lesion, small to start but cut 3 times to get more margins, now a tender divot! My personal shark bite. Yes, it hurts on my chest where there was a excision to remove freckle, yes small to start, now another painful scar. YES! IT! HURTS! No more back rubs, no more leg massages, these scars hurt, and do not bump me or hug too hard. Read the fine print on your surgery release form - you may have nerve damage!

  5. My brother has stage 4, only got diagnosed in Feb 2012. He is now in Hospice on comfort care. Pain meds are increased daily, as he only has a few days to week left. So Does Melanoma Hurt, I dare anyone to ask him.

  6. Currently Stage 3. So far the only pain I have is from the surgery to remove the lymph nodes. It's easily treatable with OTC pain-killers. I start Sylatron this week and I'll let ya'll know if the treatment entails any pain. I mean pain other than the obvious part of me sticking myself with the syringe(ouch, that thing's pointy). Suffice to say my dislike of needles, never low, has increased over the past months. Everyone take care.

  7. I have a spot on my nose that hurts very much when I accidentally scratch it with the edge of a fingernail, or the like. I know I've had sun damage, as I spent many months living in the equator as a young "invincible" woman, and know I'm at risk for melanoma. I asked "does it hurt?" Because I'm trying to help allay my own fears as I schedule a visit to the dermatologist. If it is cancer, I know greater pain and pain of varying varieties are in for me - but for now, I just wonder if maybe I might be one of the lucky ones - maybe melanoma doesn't hurt - and so this is something benign and different - but I'm not getting my hopes up. I just hope you know that people who look up these words are likely scared and nervous and experiencing something you know nothing about. Let's create live an community and understanding around cancer and cancer scares. Lest create inclusiveness. Let's create.