Survivor Stories

Bill Pope, Stage III

Date Diagnosed: 01/14/2015

Before I was diagnosed with Metastatic Melanoma l, I was diagnosed with CLL stage 1 in Dec, 2000.  No apparent symptoms except a high consistent high wbc >60k.  I have been taking IVIG infusions to build up my immune system on a monthly basis for the infections from the CLL.

On Oct. 31, 2014 I noticed a large palpable lump in my left inguinal groin area.  I had this lump surgically removed and the subsequent pathology report showed metastatic melanoma.  In another week I found another large node just above the same area (ultrasound) and had it excised as well.  It was also diagnosed as metastatic melanoma.  After a series of CAT scans and a PET scan (which were negative) it was decided to do a complete inguinallymph node resection of my groin area.  This surgery was done at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on January 7, 2015.  I recovered very well from this surgery with some lymphedema in my left leg.  The CLND pathology report came back as follows: 15 nodes removed, 4 nodes were positive, and matted.  I was diagnosed at Metastatic Melanoma stage 3C. The Oncologist told me that I was not eligible for a clinical trial since I had 2 different cancers.  In addition, he would not recommend that I take adjunctive therapy due to my age and the question of the benefits from the treatment vs. quality of life and survival.

To date I see my Oncologist every 3 months for a check up and get a CT scan every 6 months.  So far no recurrence has happened that I am aware of.  I did test positive for the BRAF gene (which is good) and I do wear a complete compression garment on my left leg to keep the swelling down.  I am approaching almost a year from my original diagnosis.  Some days I think about it and some days I get busy and forget about it.  It can consume your life if you let it.

At the moment I’m in the wait and watch mode, still working (Engineer), and have some fatigue but feel fairly good. The Oncologist says I have about a 70% chance of recurrence.  I told him that I plan on being part of the 30% and planned on dealing with this disease (s) one day at a time.  He totally agreed with my approach.

If you are reading my story I hope it is of some help to you in some way and know that my thoughts and prayers are with you all.