Survivor Stories

Emily Clark, Stage III

Diagnosed: 04/09/2015

I went to my dermatologist after I noticed a mole on my left arm had suddenly turned black and started to puff up. It had only been a month since I noticed the change to when I had it removed. A week after my 30th birthday I got a call from my dermatologist with the results from my biopsy.  Now my dermatologist was telling me that they were sending me to MD Anderson to meet with the oncologist. I immediately went in for surgery to completely remove all the cancer as well as to remove a couple of lymph nodes to see if my cancer had spread. Two weeks later I received the information that it did indeed spread. I now had type 3A Melanoma Cancer. I had surgery once again to remove all my lymph nodes in my left arm.

I am a mom with 3 young boys, my youngest being just 9 months old at the time and still breastfeeding. Being a mom while undergoing 2 surgeries was difficult, but I had lots of help from friends and after my second surgery was able to have my mom and mother in law fly in from out of town to help.

I was then able to start on a clinical trial. I was so very thankful for this as I would not have to be on the dreaded interferon drug. The clinical trial was a shot once a week for 3 months with only flu like symptoms. I recently finished my injections at the end of December 2015. Although what I went through was physically hard I think the hardest part for me was more emotional.

There are lots of emotions that go on. Feelings that are hard to understand. I was getting angry not necessarily about what I was going through, but projecting it onto other things. A fellow cancer survivor told me I was going through the stages of grief and that we all go through that. Then there’s the feeling of guilt wondering why I am doing so well while others are dying? What hurt me the most though was feeling as though I had lots of support from complete strangers, but absolutely no support from some of the people that mean the most to me, my own family members. But what I had to remember was that I was strong. I went through so much and I came through it all. Emotions can be powerful things, and its ok to go through periods of anger, guilt, grief, and weakness, but overall when we can look positively on things and see the good coming from the bad. That’s what helped me the most. Having a grateful heart.