Nirmita Nandwana, Mucosal Melanoma

I was 37 years old. Married. Stay at home mom to two children; my daughter aged five and my son two years old. I am of Asian Indian descent, born in Bombay, India. I came to the U.S. in 1975 with my parents and younger sister when I was 3 1/2 years old.

In the Spring of 2008, I noticed I had a stuffy nose and could not breathe from my left nostril. I went to my doctor’s office and was given medicine to treat a sinus infection and then prescribed allergy medicine by the nurse practitioner. I returned to their office when I noticed my nose had started bleeding. I was referred for a CT scan and to Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT). I had a large polyp. that was surgically removed, and it was biopsied. I was diagnosed with Nasal Mucosal Melanoma. I had a closed MRI at Sansum Clinic and was referred to a head and neck surgeon to remove margins and lymph nodes. All margins and 24 lymph nodes removed were clear. I found an oncologist in Santa Barbara for a treatment plan.

I have been blessed with an incredible support system through my journey. My mother came to stay with us and care for us through radiation treatments. My wonderful neighbors have brought me food, driven me to appointments, and took my daughter to kindergarten. My friend and my doctor would visit me at the hospital during infusions. During that time, I didn’t ask how I was doing. I remember my doctor told me to leave everything in his hands and focus on my family. That is what I did. My husband would communicate with my doctor about my treatment and would keep the family updated. Although I remember losing my appetite, felt nauseous, and couldn’t smell or taste briefly during radiation and high dose immunotherapy, I don’t remember much from that time. I do remember the beautiful people whose paths I crossed who came to care for me.

I had a PET scan at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara every 3-6 months for the first three years. Then yearly for the next two years. No mets.

I have been NED (No evidence of disease) since 2008.