William McAteer was successfully treated for melanoma
at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center. Here, the Annapolis, Maryland, resident
shares his patient experience.
How did you first learn that you had melanoma?
I had a small blemish on my cheek for several months that wouldn't seem to heal. After a vacation
to Puerto Rico for five weeks and baking in the sun, it got considerably more irritated. When I
returned to my home in Annapolis, I went to went to a dermatologist, who took a biopsy and told
me it was cancer.
I really didn't realize how serious it was and thought, "Oh well, they will cut it out and I will
carry on, maybe have a few stitches, a large band aid and that would be it." It turned out that
it was a bit more serious than that.
How did you decide to come to UMGCC?
My doctor recommended the University of Maryland, and he contacted Dr. Kesmodel
and arranged for me to see her. My care here was magnificent right from the word go. From the
moment you walk into the reception area, you realize you are in a very special environment. The
registration desk staff were efficient; they had me checked in within minutes. The waiting area
is very comfortable. Everyone is very friendly, and you feel like you're getting personalized
Dr. Kesmodel is very knowledgeable, and she put me right at ease. She told me what she was going
to do, and explained the process. She and her staff were superb -- very caring and
What was your surgical experience like?
I was admitted for a one-night stay on the day of my surgery. Dr. Kesmodel operated to remove the
cancer, along with a margin of tissue around the lesion to make sure she got all the cancer.
She also removed my nearby lymph nodes, to check if the cancer had spread. It turned out that the
cancer was still localized, but was somewhat deeper that we first thought. During the surgery,
the plastic surgeon, Dr.
Ronald Silverman, took flesh from behind my other ear and my eye and essentially
pulled my cheek up about two inches to cover the wound. The surgery took about three hours.
I went to the recovery room, and stayed in the hospital overnight. I was able to go home the next
During my overnight stay, the nursing staff could not have been better. When I first woke up, it
was painful, but they took great care of me. They never left me alone and were very professional
How has having melanoma changed your life? Do you do anything differently now?
I was lucky that we caught it in time. If I had waited longer, it may not have been localized,
and the results could have been much more serious.
I have always been an active, outdoors person. I do a lot of sailing, including two trans-Atlantic
races. You can't avoid being in the sun in that situation. I also enjoy cycling and gardening. So
I'm outside a lot of the time. But now I'm more aware of my skin and sun exposure. I have
regular follow-up visits to keep on top of things, and make sure I don't have a recurrence. I
make sure to always wear a hat outdoors when I'm in the sun, and I apply lots of sunscreen.