Melanoma at your fingertip

Melanoma at your fingertip

4 May 2017

Amanda Alger shares her story of her diagnosis of a rare form of melanoma - acal melanoma.

Two years ago, I kept waking at night from pins and needle through my right arm and hand. I was exhausted.

One day while at work, my arm went completely numb. I assumed that I was having a stroke!  I went straight to my General Practitioner and she referred me for a breast mammogram and ultrasound.   

My GP called me to say that the ultrasound revealed an enlarged node in my right armpit. I was then referred for a biopsy which resulted in the diagnosis: Stage III melanoma. I was in disbelief!

The primary melanoma was never found.  My GP referred me to surgeon Professor Andrew Spillane at Melanoma Institute Australia who removed all the nodes from my armpit. 

After recovering from the surgery, I had a 4-week course of radiation to the affected area. Unfortunately I got lymphoedema in my right arm as a result of the radiation, and I now have to wear a compression sleeve to reduce the swelling.

After recovering from the radiation I returned to work and started to get back to my new normal life and all was well. 

In May 2016 I had noticed a very light thin stripe on my right middle finger. I went to see my GP and had a blood test to see if I had any deficiencies, but nothing was detected.

In October, I contracted cellulitis in my right arm and had to be hospitalised. I was given a course of IV antibiotics and I noticed that the stripe in my finger had darkened. One of the doctors suggested I take a photo and send it to Professor Spillane. He suggested I have a biopsy of the nail and advised that it could be melanoma. 

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The biopsy confirmed that it was acral (subungal) melanoma, which is a very rare form of melanoma. I had my finger tip amputated in February 2017.  I have recovered well and again, I am getting used to my new normal. 

I am extremely grateful to Melanoma Institute Australia, my GP, specialists, doctors and nurses that have helped me through the past few years. The love and support from my family and friends to help me through my melanoma journey has been overwhelming, and I couldn’t have done it without them. 

Read about our latest research on acral melanoma.