0/18/1979 — 02/26/2010
I had my first introduction to the devastation of melanoma in November 2009. My younger (and only) brother went to the doctor to have a mole checked out. It had popped up on the side of his head; his comb kept catching on it, and it hurt. I remember my mom telling me that the doctor wanted to take it off and biopsy it, but none of us had any idea that it would turn out to be what ended his life. The diagnosis came back as Stage III melanoma.
Still, I had no clue how serious it was. I thought, well, it’s skin cancer … so they’ll just take it off and it will be okay, right? Wrong. He underwent a sentinel node biopsy, and although one of the two nodes had cancer, they said they had caught it before it spread any further, and he was declared to be in remission. He remained cancer-free for almost a year.
The following October, he was hit on his motorcycle and suffered from bleeding in the front of his brain. At that time, they did a CT scan and MRI, and there was no cancer detected. But within 6 weeks, he was suffering from horrific headaches that required a trip to the ER. It was discovered that the melanoma had gone straight to the injured brain tissue, and he now had six lesions, three of which were considered “large.” He immediately started radiation therapy along with steroid treatment to shrink the swelling in his brain. He completed 3 weeks of radiation, and on the 4th week, he had his follow-up CT-MRI. Once again, he was pronounced “cancer-free” (they actually used this term), and we celebrated!!!
That was a Tuesday. Thursday night, he passed away in his sleep. We were FLOORED … devastated doesn’t even begin to describe how our family felt. It has been 2 years, and we are still struggling to cope with his death. His death on February 26, 2010, was ruled due to complications of metastatic melanoma.
Jennie Akins, sister