Survivor Stories

Karen Stump – 2009

My name is Karen Stump and I was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma on
May 22, 2006. I had felt a lump under my skin on my left cheek while putting on moisturizer. I visited my primary care doctor and he said it was just a cyst and referred me to a plastic surgeon, who also agreed it was a cyst. I made an appointment to have it removed. The plastic surgeon had difficulty getting it out because it was so deep. He sent it in for a biopsy, and it came back Stage IV melanoma. In less than two weeks I had surgery on my face to remove the tissue around the area. The doctor had to remove nerves and also a part of my lip. I had radiation to the area to kill any remaining cells. There was a spot they were watching below the eye which showed up “hot” on my PET scan.

In May of 2007 the spot started to grow and I went through 6 weeks of Interleukin II. That reduced the tumor, but then in November of 2007, I began to see double. After another MRI, it was determined that the melanoma had spread behind my left eye and was traveling by my optic nerve to the brain.

In December 2007, I had radiation to the area. It shrunk the tumor and at the last MRI, the radiologist said that he could barely see where it had been. I am having MRI’s every three months now, and PET scans every six months.

I am 58 years old and teach dance classes (ballet, tap and jazz) and also have a small business. I feel so fortunate to still be living and try to enjoy every day to the fullest. I intend to keep fighting this horrible cancer with all my might! I feel also blessed to be going to a great cancer center that treats the whole person and is not afraid to try different treatments.

It is so important to have hope and a positive attitude!!< >