My name is Connie Pollock and I am 51-years-old. I have stage IV recurrent Melanoma. I have always been a sun lover, whether it be doing yard work, swimming, fishing, or just enjoying the outdoors. Being a nurse, I knew that tanning was not smart but loved the color for the summer. I spent countless hours through the years working on a tan and never stopping to think about melanoma.
Then in 2012 I had a swollen lymph node in my groin area-it was not like a typical swollen node and was up higher toward my abdomen than usual. It was not round or pea sized either. It was long and football shaped. Dr. Harvey, my employer and my friend as well, sent me for an ultrasound. The results just showed a mass, but they were not sure if it was a node, a cyst, or what. The next step was to see a surgeon, which I did right away and he said he would do surgery the next morning and take out whatever it was and send it for a biopsy. I will never forget waking up from the surgery and seeing my husband and Dr. Hayes’ faces. I knew right away. Dr. Hayes said it had to be sent off but he knew 99.9% sure it was Melanoma because it was black (the reason for the black ribbon associated with Melanoma I found out).
I come from a family of 5, all of us kids and my parents are still living. There were so many of my family members there that day including my parents. All I could think about is how my parents must feel. I have 3 daughters of my own and cannot imagine one of them having cancer. My family has been the most amazing support group ever. I could not make it without them. My husband and I have been married 32 years and have daughters who are 30, 31 and also a 13-year-old that snuck up on us later in life. They keep me going.
“We have a pool and continue to enjoy it and the outdoors but being much wiser about the sun and our skin.”
I have used CARTI for my care in North Little Rock, Ar. and could not ask for better care. They have been amazing. Since this has all started I have had 3 surgeries-interferon-radiation and now zelboraf. The expense has been tremendous to us as well as to my insurance carrier-all because I was so ignorant. AIM@MELANOMA had its first walk in Arkansas and I had the biggest team ever!! I am so blessed with amazing friends and family! The lady that organized the event-Sue Gregory-lost her daughter to Melanoma, she was the age of my older daughters. I am so proud of her for being able to do what she does, trying to help others prevent this from happening, for I know her pain is the worse pain possible–the loss of a child.
I want people to know that it can happen to them and it is a terrible thing to live with the fact that this cancer was caused by something that could have been prevented, sunburns!
“If you are willing to take the chance and bake yourself, that is your right, but please protect your children.”
For myself, I am so thankful this is me and not one of my girls because I do not think I could live with the guilt of that! For all bad things a person can find some good usually and that is how I try to look at this. Chances are I will die before long, but I may not. God has that choice and whatever he chooses for me, I am OK with. I do pray he gives me 5 more years to see my baby girl graduate high school. The good for me out of all of this is live everyday as it is your last day, appreciate more, love more, laugh more and that I do!
Since writing her story Connie had some good news to share with us via our Facebook fan page. Here is what she shared…
May 31, 2013