Survivor Stories

John Woodruff, Stage IV

Date Diagnosed: 02/13/2014

I was diagnosed with para anal melanoma in February 2014, after having a routine colonoscopy. After researching on the internet, I understood just how dire my situation was. The mass was removed followed by a sentinel node biopsy and a groin dissection locally. I then went to MD Anderson in Houston for advice and treatment options.  They advised that I needed to immediately start cisplatnin and timidar which I could do at home, I was able to do 2 of 3 rounds, followed by high output radiation in Houston. Afterwards, I was NED for 5 months before a golf ball size tumor presented in my illiac nodes. MD Anderson put me on a trial in Houston for 4 months. Afterwards my scan showed growth to a baseball size. I returned home and went through 3 months of Keytruda. My tumor was still growing and I had new spots in my lungs and liver. I was told there was nothing else to do. I came home to Missouri and prepared for the worst. One of my best childhood friends reached out and said his daughter was an oncology nurse in Kansas City and they wanted to see me, I honestly didn’t want to go, but, finally did in August 2016. The oncologist at Sarah Cannon Cancer Center in Research Medical Center suggested cyberknife radiation, followed by the breast cancer drug Hercepton. Within 60 days, my tumors had shrunk by 50% and by September 2017 nothing shows on my scans.

I have been through the full gambit of feelings, from 2A to 4.  My friends kept my spirits up and kept me positive. Unfortunately, due to complications from the chemo, I am no longer able to work but I continue to live. You have to believe, stay positive and keep the faith!