Survivor Stories

Ron Broomhead

My name is Ron Broomhead. I had Stage II-III in August 2007. They took a 6″ round and 2.5″ deep resection out of the lower part of my lower right back. I currently have Stage IV melanoma.

It was discovered by accident in August 2012 when I went to the ER with chest pains. The doctor took a CT scan and found two small spots in my right lung. He then sent me to the pulmonary doctor, who ordered a PET scan and then referred me to the oncologist who told me I had Stage IV melanoma. I had four spots on my right lung and another one under the skin between my right are and right rib cage. I had surgery to remove the one between my skin and rib cage. At the same time they tried to get the ones in my right lung but were only able to get the two in the middle lobe. There are two more in the upper lobe that they were unable to get due to too many complications (lungs deflating, infection, and others). Due to the infection and other complications, I spent 7 days in ICU and 13 more days in the step-down unit before being released. They tried to do the surgery robotically but had to cut me open due to complications. They cut nerves, cartilage, and anything in their way; they also spread my ribs. With all this done, they tell me that it would take 12 to 18 months for me to heal.

Since then I have been doing okay, but I’m still dealing with a lot of pain. They have me working with the pain management group at the hospital, and my lungs are working at 60% capacity, so the heat and humidity have not been good to me. (Today I have to miss my daughter’s first senior soccer game due to the high heat and humidity.) The first round of follow-up visits went well. The two spots in the upper right lung were the same size, so the doctors decided to wait another 3 months to give me more time to heal.

As the 6-month mark came around, the doctor ordered a PET scan, but it was denied by the insurance company (Aetna), so they did CT scans of the chest, abdomen, and throat, and an MRI of the brain was scheduled for a week later. They found a tumor in the throat scan that was actually at the base of my brain, so we had to get the MRI moved up and they confirmed the tumor. After seeing my oncologist and the radiation oncologist, we all agreed to do cyberknife to the brain tumor. We all felt that was the most serious at this point to take care of. In about 7 to 8 weeks, once the radiation is washed out of my system, they will start me on a new clinical trial of chemotherapy that they are telling me they are getting very good results.