Survivor Stories

Lynn Peterson, Stage IV

Date Diagnosed: 08/16/2013

In the summer of 2013 my then 10 year old daughter was playing with my hair.  She mentioned I had black hair dye stuck to my head which I thought was a weird observation.  I asked her to take a picture since it was located in a place on my scalp that I could not see.  The picture was concerning so I was at the dermatologist office the following morning.  They biopsied and it was melanoma measuring 1.1 mm.  I contacted my hairdresser and she mentioned that it had been there for years she assumed it was a birthmark.  We headed straight to MD Anderson not knowing what to expect.  After two surgeries the melanoma was removed and it was not in my lymph nodes, whew.  We thought we had dodged a bullet.

I continued to go to MD Anderson every 4 months for check ups and in addition had my moles checked every 3 months with my dermatologist.  I was doing everything I should have been doing and never missed an appointment.  At my two year check up at MD Anderson something suspicious showed up on my chest X-ray.  This led to many more tests and biopsies.  End result metastatic melanoma.  Spots on my lungs and a rather large tumor in my adrenal gland.

The genetic mutation analysis indicated that it was BRAF negative.  MD Anderson recommended 8 weeks of Obdivo then surgery then more treatment.  We implemented this plan in Dallas at UT Southwestern since we live in the area.  Around my first treatment I started having substantial pain around the tumor.  After 8 weeks of treatment another cat scan was ordered.  The tumor had increased substantially in size plus there were 3 new spots that had not been there previously.  Surgery was scheduled.  It was invasive and in additional to removing my adrenal gland they also removed one kidney.  They also removed one of the spots which tested positive for melanoma.  In addition the mutation analysis from the tumor removed indicated it is BRAF positive.  We are currently waiting for insurance approval for the new drug combo just approved mid November.  While waiting I now have 6 tumors that are visible.  Ironic thing is the lymph nodes checked and removed during my original surgery and the 11 lymph nodes tested in the latest surgery are all negative for melanoma.