Date Diagnosed: 02/21/2002
I was first diagnosed with Melanoma in 2012 right before my 40th birthday. I had several pre-cancerous lesions removed about a year prior. The mole on my back was quite large and when the doctor initially looked at it she recognized it as melanoma. I had surgery to remove the mole and about 15 lymph nodes removed from my right armpit. No further treatment was recommended at the time because the disease did not appear to have spread.
Forward ten years. I had just started my own business and was suffering from extreme anxiety. I went to a cardiologist and during a Doppler scan he found suspicious growths in my right armpit. He scheduled me for a mammogram with a biopsy. The lumps tested positive for melanoma. I again had surgery and all remaining lymph nodes were removed (about 22). I was referred to MD Anderson for further care. My diagnosis is Stage IIIC. At the time, my family and I made the decision not to undertake the various adjuvant treatments available to me. We instead choose careful monitoring which included MRI’s and CT Scans every three months. I am 3 years out from my second diagnosis and so far, all looks good.
I think the biggest thing that I would like to share with other patients is to educate yourself and rely on your healthcare providers to recommend the best course of treatment for your particular need. Immunotherapy in our opinion didn’t have the cure rate that we had hoped for the and the side effects and the related depression would have been debilitating in my case. I personally don’t believe that I have experienced my biggest challenge. I have had great care and a very supportive family during my journey. I guess my biggest challenge is the fear that another shoe will drop and I will be re-diagnosed in the future. I do have to share how thrilled I was to learn about AIM at Melanoma and to know that “our” cancer is finally being recognized. I think the general public needs to be educated and look forward to become active in the AIM program.
Thanks for letting me share my story,