Oh boy, where to begin…
Well, about 2 years ago I noticed a pain in my left shoulder which seemed to be aggravated when I went to the gym. I went to the doctor who prescribed muscle relaxers I never took, so it didn’t surprise me that the pain remained. Over the next year I went to the doctor at least twice more. Each time I was told it was a pinched nerve. After a trip to Europe last April, where I carried a backpack, the pain was so bad it hurt to walk. My doctor finally sent me for an MRI and a tumor was found on my rib 12cm by 9cm.
The doctor I was seeing referred me to Moffitt Cancer Center where they told me it was 99% likely I had a sarcoma. However, a biopsy confirmed a diagnosis of melanoma. They explained that the tumor was inoperable. I never asked what stage it was because I did not want to know. Knowing that melanoma was deadly, I really thought my life was over.
I went back to Jupiter and to the Cancer Center of South Florida. All of this happened within a week of my 50th birthday. By mid June I was receiving immunotherapy – double dose of Yervoy and Opdivo – the tumor began to shrink. Just 5 months later it was 2cm by 1.5 cm and the doctors couldn’t believe the response I had. Suddenly the tumor was now operable and in January of this year, it was removed along with a section of my rib. Both came back negative for cancer.
Yesterday I was officially declared cancer free and because of my complete response to treatment, it was determined that further preventative treatment was no longer necessary. Regular scans will be part of my new normal, but as of today I am cancer free. My treatment team also explained that my melanoma was stage 3, desmoplastic melanoma of unknown origin and without metastases. I am truly blessed!