Survivor Stories

Ellen Lail, Stage III

Stage IIIA – Currently Cancer Free!
Initial Diagnosis: December 2009

After noticing a little ‘freckle’ on my left cheek (in the fall of 2009), I went to a plastic surgeon on 12/21/2009 to have it removed. I was told not to worry because it hadn’t been there long and it was extremely tiny.

Unfortunately, I was not so lucky. I was diagnosed with melanoma on 12/31/2009. The depth was a Clarks IV. I had a sentinel node biopsy on 2/19/2010 and it revealed the involvement of 1 lymph node. My melanoma was classified as Stage IIIA.

On 3/9/2010, surgeons did a wide excision, a complete neck dissection (left side) and removed my left parotid gland. The remaining nodes were cancer free.

In April 2010, I completed 4 weeks/5 times per week of Intron-A (interferon) via IV. I was unable to complete Phase II due to toxicity and extreme side effects.

I receive PET scans every 6 months, have routine physical exams by my oncologist every 3 months, and have skin check exams by my dermatologist every 3 months.

My doctors and treatment team were ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL! Blumenthal Cancer Center at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte is AWESOME!

I have learned that life is precious and we cannot take one moment for granted! After treatment, I made the decision to take time off from my job as a school librarian to live life to the fullest and be an advocate for skin cancer prevention and awareness.

I encourage everyone to:
“Honor the past,
Live in the present,
Create the future.”