Hats off to our brave and beautiful cosmetologist Sarah Stibitz! She is a Melanoma cancer survivor! She is courageous, smart and keeps us laughing! We are so proud to have her as an important part of the Gayla Wig team. Her story not only inspires us, but she gives hope and inspiration to the clients who walk through our doors.
We asked Sarah to share her special story in her own words. Thank you Sarah!
“May is Melanoma awareness month. Ironically, it was in May that I was diagnosed with Melanoma. May 24th to be exact. This diagnosis was not expected nor was it a concern when I went to the Dr. to get an ugly mole on my face removed. During the visit I asked the Dr. to look at a spot just under my ear, the Dr. said “We can remove it just to be safe. “That spot”turned my world upside down, it was Melanoma!
I was in shock! I was 33 years old, recently had a baby, started a new job, and no history of cancer in my family. I even tried to convince the Dr. that my results must have been miss read. How could this happen to me?
I started my cancer journey a week later at the University of Michigan. The treatment plan was made and the first of many appointments were scheduled. For the next few months medical appointments dictated my life. I spent much of my time traveling from one appointment to another for biopsies, going to follow up visits and to check the cancer margins. I had two surgeries. The first surgery caused an allergic reaction to the sutures and my skin did not heal typically. This was a major setback for the final surgery which perform the surgery, he was a top Otolaryngologist. He suggested using an adhesive glue that he said was for the reconstruction of my neck and ear. This adhesive was to mimic snail snot! This sounded crazy, but I was beyond exhausted and just wanted all of this to be over! It was three months of dealing with cancer and I did whatever the doctors recommended. I had hope that life would one day be normal again!
I clearly remember coming out of the anesthesia on the day of surgery. I had some anxiety about the results of the surgery – after all my ear had been cut off! I had no idea what it might look like underneath the bandages. As the dressings were removed, it was more frightening than I anticipated. I was horrified to see how much of my skin had been removed and that my ear had been glued to my face! I could not believe it! I was in shock! My healing went well, but it took several months for the swelling to go down and nerve sensation to settle down. I am completely happy with the results of my treatments and am grateful for the experienced hands of a skilled surgeon. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them how I was glued back together after cancer. I can laugh about it now, but I take life more seriously now and appreciate many things I had taken for granted.
At this point in my post-cancer journey I have had over 24 biopsies, 2 of which were atypical resulting in more removals but nothing like I had 4 years ago. Prevention is KEY when it comes to skin cancer and it is easily preventable with proper sun protection. Having a pretty tan is not worth the long term effects of the sun or tanning beds.
I asked myself,
“Why all of this trouble from one little mole that never hurt, bled or changed?” The Dr. kindly reminded me, “Sarah, this was not just a mole, it was cancer!”
I am fortunate and blessed to be a survivor of cancer. I gratefully share my experience to give others hope and comradery when they hear those three ugly words, “You have cancer!”