Survivor Stories

John White

My name is John White. I’m 58 years old. For about a year and a half I had a growth on my chest. My family tried to get me to go to the doctor but I just refused, as I felt I could deal with it myself. After all, I’m a guy, I can handle it. Well, inside a year it had grown to the size of a tennis ball. I still felt pretty good and had my otherwise good health. Then this growth started to hurt and I began experiencing sharp pains throughout the day. Many times, I could block them out as I do a lot of meditation, so there was not much pain on most days.

I finally decided to go to my doctor, who sent me to outpatient services to have it removed. I’ll never forget the expression on that doctor’s face; I could tell it was the largest thing he had ever seen. However, he refused to remove it, even though I tried to talk him into it. He then sent me to a surgeon, who then sent me out for every test in the book: MRI, CT scan, PET scan, biopsy. Lucky for me, everything came back clean except the biopsy, which showed melanoma. I remember that call well. It was such a shock to me.

After a day I got back to my positive self and said, “It’s no big deal. I’m clean. Let’s get rid of this thing.” So we scheduled surgery to get the growth removed. After a few hours in the operating room and a week in the hospital, I was out and clean. I remember talking to the oncologist, and he was talking about some medicines, but I asked, “Why? I’m clean. No need to sign up until the operation.” My body is drug free; I do not even take aspirin. So I declined. This was back in October 2012.

It wasn’t until January 2013 that the lump came back, growing bigger and larger than the first one. I was very disappointed! Oh well. Back to the doctor, and yes, he wanted to cut it out again. I had to go back to do all the tests and another operation and skin graft. This time, at least, I spent only 1 day in the hospital.

The big difference this time was that a few months later when I saw the oncologist, he then told me very quickly I now had Stage IV melanoma, and there are no cures. He gave me some options, the largest being if I had the BRAF. Which, guess what, I do not, so I started my first treatment of Ipilimumab in mid-May.

I am very fortunate that I have a lot of people pulling for me. The toughest thing for me is helping to keep my wife strong.

I would say, if you think you have something strange going on with your body, get to the doctor. Get it checked out as early as you can! This is a very dangerous cancer and not something to mess with. If caught early it can be very curable, but if you wait too long, then it can be a tough battle.

As for me, I’m strong and tough. I will beat this cancer. I’m staying very positive with the treatments I am undergoing. I shall keep you all posted.

Thank you, and always wear your sunscreen!