We’re up to our third installment in the LockNet series of personal cancer stories and today, we’re featuring Diana Thielen. Diana began with LockNet earlier this year and has fit right in with everyone. She’s kind to everyone she sees and is a really hard worker.
Unfortunately, Diana’s experience with cancer involved herself. She’s better now, but her story is scary and one filled with great advice.
LockNet Personal Cancer Story: Diana Thielen
In 1994, I had a small mole on my right arm that had started to bleed and wouldn’t heal. After visiting with my doctor, it was determined that surgery for removal was the best option, just to be safe. The mole was removed and tested. A minor form of skin cancer was detected, followed by a second surgery to remove a larger area. I was given the all clear.
Fast forward two years and I felt a lump in my right armpit. A quick trip to the doctor and my life was about to change. I had a lymph node removed the Friday before Memorial Day in 1996 and was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma, Clarks level 4, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. That weekend is a blur as I overly medicated myself with beer, wine and cigarettes. Probably not the best idea, but it seemed like the best way to escape at the time. Within a few days, I was at University Hospital in Madison WI where the rest of my lymph nodes were removed. I was given a 9% chance of survival. I began an aggressive form of chemotherapy, Interferon/ Intron A. A port was inserted into my chest and I had 156 treatments, three times a week, one treatment shy of a year. I am one of the lucky ones, if you can call it that. The side effects of this chemo were hair thinning, weakness and possible loss of appetite. I was really hoping for the last one but only my hair thinned and I had a level of weakness that I had never experienced before, or since.
That was almost 21 years ago. The weekend following my diagnosis being the exception, I never once believed I wasn’t going to survive.
I am telling this story because, in general, people don’t take sunburn as seriously as they should. It is often something people laugh about. A tan is viewed as healthy, which is far from the truth. Sunburn is many things, but funny isn’t one of them, deadly is.
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