Survivor Stories

Andrea Johnson, Stage IV

Diagnosed: 9/14/2015

In 2014 I had some moles removed. Basically, because they were ugly and I wanted them off. My primary care doctor took most of them off but the ones on my back. When he saw those he said, ‘eww I don’t like those’ and off to a dermatologist I went. He removed them and sent them off to be biopsied. Not having insurance, it was a pretty penny!

A week later, a nurse called and said they needed more of the area. Not sounding concerned, I never went back. After some time, I started having bad headaches here and there but thought nothing of it. I got big into the gym. I was in there 6 times a day. Muscles were starting to show and I had a girls cruise coming up so I started tanning. As I was rubbing on my tanning lotion I noticed a lump between my breast. I panicked! I got out the tanning bed and went to my spin class. I parked next to my friend and let her feel the lump. She said, go on your cruise and worry about it when you get back, so I did just that.

I made a appointment with a breast cancer doctor and he said he was 99% sure it wasn’t cancer but he was going to biopsy it just for that 1%. On my birthday September 14th I had a simple partial seizure. I couldn’t get it to stop and not knowing what it was, I called the ambulance. They came and got me. I asked what’s wrong with me and he said something isn’t connecting in your brain but we’re gonna get you fixed up. I told him he couldn’t tell me that because it’s my birthday! After arriving at the hospital they sent me to get a MRI. My head hurt really bad and I’m not one to take pain medication. I asked the nurse for pain meds for my head because it hurt so bad. She said I’d have to wait for the doctor to give me my MRI results. About 10 mins later he came in and said, Ms. Johnson, you have a cluster of tumors in your brain. I started crying. I was healthy, in the gym, eating good and he tells me I have a tumor! They put something in my IV and it was lights out for me. I spent a week in ICU and a week in a room.

Come to find out I had stage 4 metastatic melanoma throughout my body and brain. It was in every organ in my body. I did 10 rounds of radiation to my brain, got my port, chemo, brain surgery,  immunotherapy. It spread to the lymph nodes in my neck and underarms, more tumors were forming in my brain. I had gamma knife. I was in and out of the hospital, taken off immunotherapy put back on chemo. I almost died in August of 2016 and on my birthday of 2016 found out I was cancer free!! No treatment since July ! Through it all I kept my faith. Never give up hope!