Survivor Stories

Andrea Sheldon, Stage IV

I was first diagnosed with Melanoma back in September of 2013.  I had a mole on my left inner thigh since I was little, and noticed it started changing, getting bigger and then started to bleed.  My brother recommended I go to his dermatologist to get it checked and removed.  I did, and the dermatologist sent it off for biopsy, and she came back saying it was Melanoma.  She then scheduled me the same day to see a surgeon to have it completely removed.  On Oct. 2nd 2013, I had that surgery, and the surgeon took 4 Lymphnodes and said the Lymphnodes were clear.  If they didn’t come back clear then he mentioned chemo, but that didn’t happen.  I went through 3 months of therapy (training) for Lymphnode drainage since I developed Lymphodema.  The therapist wrapped my leg from above my knee down to my toes individually, that’s how bad the fluid build up was from the Lymphodema.  I had to walk with a cane for a while.  I was on a 4 month medical leave from work.  I had the support from the church I was a member of, and the support of my family.  I went back to work after the 4 months being on leave but with restrictions, (light duty).  It was tough at first but got better with time.  My doctor prescribed me the compression hose to wear to help prevent fluid build up in my leg from the Lymphodema.  As time went on I was healing, and thought I was going to have this behind me.  I decided to make a change in my life and relocate to Texas the beginning of January 2015.  After about 4 1/2 months of being in Texas I noticed these bumps showing up all over my body, two of the biggest ones on my right abdomen, a dear friend of mine urged me to go to the doctor, so I did.  That doctor referred me to an oncologist after I told him I had Melanoma before.  I went to the doctor and had an ultrasound, and the ultrasound tech said those are definitely not cysts that we had originally thought.  I had a biopsy on one of the tumors in my stomach, and it came back Malignant for Metastic Melanoma.  Because there were so many tumors, it was inoperable.  I had the support of my sweet brother and sister there with me for the biopsy results.  The oncologist stated he would be surprised if it didn’t come back Malignant considering what I had been through in 2013, and because there were so many of them.  He said they can show up anywhere in the body.  I had two Pet Scans and an MRI of the brain since the Pet Scan showed something in my brain.  I was never worried about anything until the MRI confirmed multiple lesions in my brain.  My oncologist then scheduled radiation on my brain, and on a mass on my right rib cage.  I went through 5 days of radiation treatments.  They told me I would lose my hair, and after my last radiation treatment, about a week later my hair started falling out.  Every time I would take a shower or brush my hair more hair would come out.  My hair was so thin I had to go get the rest of it shaved off.  My oncologist told me about these updated medicines to treat Metastic Melanoma, called Tafinlar and Mekinist which work well together to treat the Melanoma.  I have been taking these meds since June 30th of 2015, and after 3 days of taking the meds my tumors started shrinking, with the side effects that I have, it is ok because there is hope for the future that one day, I will have a Pet Scan and it will show no Cancer.  I believe in miracles and have faith in the Lord that he will bring me through this, not to mention I have 10 or more states praying for me.