The Edmond Sun
While standing in a friend’s kitchen, Stacey Decker’s husband saw a spot on the back of her upper arm and was alarmed at what he saw.
“He commented he thought it ‘looked bad,’” Decker said. “For some reason I didn’t think twice and called my dermatologist Dr. Julie Lowe, never having a worry about a cancer diagnosis but thought it was best to get it removed ‘just in case.’”
Decker said her life before the diagnosis was carefree with few worries about potential health issues.
“My health overall was good, with an asthma diagnosis but it was controlled very well,” Decker said. “I would describe myself as living an active lifestyle.”
After hearing her diagnosis from her doctor, Decker said she was stunned at first and then extremely tearful and scared.
“As a nurse for the last 21 years I knew full well what this diagnosis meant and took it very seriously,” Decker said. “I was acutely aware of the need to ‘stage’ the cancer and what those results could mean for me.”
With a diagnosis of Stage II melanoma, Decker said she knew it had reached a thickness greater than Stage I but hadn’t spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant sites.
“This comes with a good prognosis with a well done resection and continuous follow–up for life,” Decker said.
After undergoing a wide excision of the melanoma along with a sentinel node biopsy, Decker said she continues to see her dermatologist Dr. Julie Lowe, every four months for complete body skin checks.
“She has removed many other questionable spots which could have the potential to become a melanoma, so my follow-up visits with her are vital to my long-term survival,” Decker said.
Her treatment did not require chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
“My care and treatment have been beyond anything I could have ever asked for,” Decker said. “Plastic surgeon Dr. Jim Lowe performed my initial procedure and treated me the same way he would have treated a loved one. Dr. Julie Lowe has been my sustainer. She not only cares for me medically but she helps me emotionally. She knows I live in a state of fear over my diagnosis, and she goes above and beyond to ensure I feel loved and cared for. I see her religiously every four months and will do that for the rest of my life.”
Decker said she relied on God, her husband, her friends and her physicians to make it through the toughest times.
“I received unconditional love from them all,” Decker said. “They gave me the gift of prayer which meant the most to me.”
Decker said as long as she continues to follow up on a routine basis with her dermatologist her prognosis is excellent.
“I’m at a higher risk to develop another lesion but with continued oversight we can identify those spots early and remove them before they become cancer.”
Decker has returned to her job as a registered nurse at Integris Baptist Medical Center where she has been for the last 24 years and is the administrative director of Surgical/Ambulatory/Acute and Bariatric Services.
Her advice for others facing the same prognosis is:
• Be sure and find an excellent physician that takes the diagnosis seriously and is willing to follow you for life.
• Look to God for strength and rely on family and friends for support.
• It’s critically important for everyone to have annual skin checks to identify any problems early before the diagnosis is advanced.