Survivor Stories


I’m a 44 year old wife, Mom of four and Grammy of two. In 2005, I noticed a small dark mole which had popped up on the outside of my left knee. I went to my Primary Care physician to request a referral to dermatology to have it removed since I had been accidently cutting it while shaving my legs. My doctor told me in his lingo that it was a mole and of no concern and if we have everything removed we would end up looking like Swiss cheese. Since he was my doctor, I trusted his medical opinion and did not get the derm referral.

Months later in the early part of 2006 my parents looked at the mole and asked if I had it looked at recently. I told them about 8 months prior and they urged me to have it looked at again. I went back to the same doctor and he stated he was concerned and gave me the referral to derm to have it removed.
he dermatologist took one look at it and told me it was Melanoma. It was about 1.2mm in size. He removed it in his office and then referred me to general surgery for a wide excision and sentinel node biopsy. The derm removal pathology confirmed Melanoma. The surgical procedure was completed less than a week later and the margins as well as the sentinel node were negative. I was never referred to an oncologist. The surgeon told me to follow-up with derm every six months for skin checks which I have done over the past 4 ½ years diligently.

Over the recent Labor Day weekend, I was in the shower and noticed a small bump to the left side of my groin. It didn’t hurt so I wasn’t overly concerned. I made an appointment with my Primary (same doctor) the Tuesday after the holiday. He felt it and told me he was concerned it may be a Melanoma reoccurrence and gave me a referral to a general surgeon to have it biopsied. The surgeon asked me when my last PET scan had been completed. I told him no one had ever requested a PET as part of my follow-up. Regardless, he requested a PET scan on September 21, 2010, and on September 23, 2010, I had two groin nodes biopsied. Up to this point I still wasn’t concerned. Unfortunately the PET scan revealed several hot nodes in my left groin/pelvic area. The biopsies confirmed it to be Melanoma.

On October 19, 2010, I underwent a radical groin lymph node dissection. Of the 18 lymph nodes removed, half had Melanoma. My next step will be 6 weeks of localized radiation once I have healed from the surgery and the last drain tube is out.

I feel fortunate that I went to the gym regularly and otherwise am in good health. I am healing pretty quickly from the surgery. The Medical Oncologist has briefly discussed Interferon as well as a clinical trial. I’m trying to find out as much info as I can regarding both. I haven’t read many positive writings on Interferon and the side effects. Will I be able to work while taking the year-long treatment? Is participation in a Clinical Trial to risky? I’m young with a LOT of life to live. I’m taking each day as it comes and am grateful at this point to live life in what we call “new normal.”