Survivor Stories

Rick Lennox, Stage III

Diagnosed 02/06/2014

I originally had a cancerous mole on my upper back – in 2014. A SNL biopsy was negative, so cancer was cut out. Four years later, a cancerous tumor (melanoma) grew in the area of (right axilla) where SNL was performed. I had the tumor – along with a total of 30 lymph nodes – cut out 2 weeks ago. Cancer was found in the tumor, only, even though PET scan lit up one of 4 level 3 nodes that were removed and found cancer-free. so, I’m thinking that if a PET can return false positives, it can return false negatives. Which helps rationalize the need for CLNDs. I’m still in some pain. My first JP drain got clogged in less than a week, and I was back to get a pig tail catheter inserted. That’s been working good, but is slowing down to where it can be pulled out. Bottom line.. I trust my medical and surgical oncologists. I’m currently free of any detectable cancer, and will be starting BRAF meds as soon as surgeon is sure that my drain can come out and my body’s healed enough to have an all around clean slate for the introduction of the drugs – and whatever side-effects they may cause. Looking good so far. For anyone reading this.. keep your chin up.

One wrinkle I’d like to add about my case – that you can file away as ‘one never knows’.. back in 2001 I was diagnosed with relapsing/remitting MS. I was on a med called avonex for a few years – but got tired of taking the injections every week. I didn’t have many relapses, and the ones I had weren’t that bad. Anyway.. while this mass was growing this year, I felt like I was relapsing again with weird pains in my leg and fatigue. At one point of the testing process, an MRI of my brain showed it was lit up with ‘possible demyelination’. After the surgery, what I believe were MS symptoms subsided. Also, the pathology of the tumor indicated ‘extensive necrosis’ – which tells me that my immune disease was actually battling the melanoma. This is why new drugs that take the brakes off a normal person’s immune system are effective. It’s also the reason I cant take them, but luckily I have that BRAF mutation that allows for some form of adjuvant therapy. Definitely keep your chin up, cause you never know from what direction the Calvary may arrive from. 🙂