Samantha Coyle

In the spring of 2010 I was 23 and as the weather warmed up I noticed a mole on my left leg. Being so young I was oblivious to how dangerous this could be. I continually asked my family and friends what it was and what to do about it. I live 5 hours from Sydney NSW out in the country so getting in to see someone about it was a challenge. There was a 6 month wait for the dermatologist in town and I knew I just couldnt wait. After some investigation I found out the dermatologist had an office in Sydney so I booked in to see him there, still a 3 month wait. I travelled down to Sydney and at the appointment the dermatologist examined my skin and said everything looks fine, except the one on the back of your leg, would you like me to remove it now? He did so and I went home and waited for the results which came through about 10 long days later, positive for melanoma. Absolutely shocked and panicked, I made an appointment to go back and see the surgeon in Sydney. I had surgery a few weeks later for the wide excision and sentinel node biopsy. In the scan prior 3 lymph nodes had ‘lit up’ as potential for melanoma in them. My doctor explained they usually only take the first one, what did I want to do? I asked her what is the chance its in the other 2 nodes. She said 2-3% chance. I’m usually very easy going and take a risk but something told me at that moment to get all 3 removed. This ended up being a very good choice, the results came back in those 2 nodes and not the 1st sentinel node. About a month after the initial surgery I had to have more surgery – complete lymph node dissection of the lymph nodes in my left leg. After the recovery from that surgery I had physio to help with the swelling, I ended up with mild lymphedema and had 2 admissions to hospital in the first 2 months after surgery with cellulitis infections in the left leg.

I started to work on my health, eating, exercise and well being to manage the lymphoma and prevent recurrence of the melanoma. I also started to volunteer to give back to the melanoma community as a thanks for all the help and support I received whilst going through my battle.
I am a teacher and I use my experience to educate and provide awareness to my students about my experience. I am so thankful for this journey as it’s helped me see how precious and valuable life is.