As a child, I spent a lot of time at Southern California beaches and had numerous sun burns. I used to attempt to “tan” every summer in my teens (against my mother’s wishes)…
In 1985, at the age of 21 my dermatologist told me the irregular mole I had discovered on my back was malignant melanoma. I had a large area removed around the site and joined a study at U.C.S.F. to follow my progress. There was no treatment available, although I agreed to have most of my moles removed per my doctor’s suggestion. (I understand this is an outdated practice.)
Nine years later, I felt a lump near my arm pit while taking a shower. I knew I needed to have it checked out given my history. I was seen within days and had a biopsy. The oncology department called to make an appointment before I knew the results, which was an unfortunate way to find out it was indeed malignant.
The oncologist told me there was no treatment available for my Stage III melanoma. Fortunately, with the help of my previous dermatologist I found a clinical trial with a new, experimental therapy at U.C.S.F. for which I was a prime candidate.
With an enormous amount of support from my family & friends- and what I believe to be most important: a positive attitude, I survived and thrived. I am very grateful to be here 20 years after treatment to share my story and to possibly inspire others who are dealing with this disease.