Survivor Stories

Milton Thrasher, Stage III

In February 2014 I had what seemed to be an ingrown toenail that was infected. It cleared up after antibiotics. I went to a podiatrist because it was dark under the nail of the right great toe. She removed about 1/4 of the nail exposing a dark area. I told her I thought it was cancerous. My 32-year-old nephew had a similar dark area under a toenail. It was a melanoma that metastasized and a lemon-size tumor developed in his groin. The cancer spread to his spine, and he died in less than 1 year!

After three visits where she and I both noticed that it had not healed, it indicated to me that it must be cancerous. She took a biopsy without any anesthetic using only a nail clipper! She did not take enough material for the depth to be evaluated properly. It was evaluated as an ulcerated malignant melanoma. I was surprised when I got a call in July 2014 to come in to be told of the biopsy results. I asked that she call me, which she did, telling me of the results. She had not had any experience with melanoma. Moffitt cancer specialists told me that 99 times out of 100 that they see that was first thought to be ingrown toe nails have turned out to be malignant melanoma.

A friend had a melanoma on his chest treated at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, by Dr. Jonathan Zager, specialist for cutaneous melanomas of the extremities. On his recommendation, I went there on August 7, 2014. I was told by his assistant that it was indeed a melanoma and half of my right great toe would have to be excised. That was done on August 14 along with the sentinel node and two other nodes. The lab reported microscopic melanoma in the sentinel node and one other. A radical lymphadectomy was performed on September 11. Twenty-three lymph nodes were removed, of which three and possibly a fourth had microscopic melanoma within them. The largest was 6 mm long. There were 5 and possibly 6 of 26 nodes with melanoma, but the margins were clear. That gave me the staging of IIIC – metastasized but not to a distant site. A PET scan and MRI of my head showed no other tumors.

I had two vinyl drain tubes put in my right groin to drain off the lymph fluid. They have been in for 8 weeks. Inadvertently, one tube came out when I concealed them in a cloth bag under my pants when going to a funeral. Moffitt would not put it back due to risk of infection. The one tube remaining was supposed to pick up the fluid from the missing one, but it has not.

I now have lymphedema and wear doubled pressure stockings to try to move to fluid back into my body. I have requested a prescription for a lymphedema technician to massage my leg, but that has not been received thus far. Some have told me that my insurance plan may not cover the lymphedema technician. I plan to go to Moffitt to show them my condition and seek a prescription for a technician and stronger pressure stockings. A local technician charges $115 per 1 hour massage treatment. I do not know what the Sarasota Memorial Lymphedema Clinic charges.

On September 13, a Moffitt oncologist said there was nothing to be done for Stage IIIC. I inferred that she simply wanted to wait for another tumor to show up! A trial was offered of a combination of two medications said to possibly delay the recurrence of other tumors. But that would cause harm to my pituitary gland, requiring medicine for the rest of my life, visits to Moffitt every 2 weeks, and impact my adrenals. I declined the trial and decided to try homeopathic alternatives, which the oncologist did not endorse or may not have known about. I have since set up an appointment with another oncologist in Sarasota and am seeking a doctor who treats melanoma with homeopathic cures in addition to what are called orthodox treatments. I have read “Cancer Outside of the Box,” which tells of the FDA stopping doctors from treating with homeopathic cures.

I read “I Survived Metastatic Melanoma” by Frank E. Burdett of Australia, who told of taking baking soda in black strap molasses 3 times per day to make his pH alkaline and a healthy diet.

I am taking 3 drops of medicinal grade hydrogen peroxide in V8 Juice and SuperGreens from Richard’s Whole Foods 3x per day. That should oxygenate my blood, which is now crimson when indicates it is highly oxygenated.

I will have another PET scan followed by appointments with Dr. Zager and an oncologist on December 8. Although 86, I am in otherwise excellent health, although I have had eight TIAs and take Eliquis to try to prevent another. But, within a month of starting Eliquis, I had another one. They fortunately have resolved very quickly. I am up and about and expect to get back to tennis 3 days a week again when the final tube comes out.

I am blessed by having a very caring and supportive wife. We are in Sarasota, FL, where I once did a prostate cancer newsletter for Man to Man Support Group, which has been taken over by the Red Cross.