Survivor Stories

Starr Crutcher, Stage III

Date of Diagnosis: 03/29/2019

When I was 30 years, I noticed a mole on my thigh that had never been there before. I immediately brushed it off thinking it was nothing. I never protected my skin while out in the sun and I had been using tanning beds for 20 years but it still did not occur to me that this mole was potentially dangerous. Fast forward 6 months, I noticed the mole on my leg again and became curious and googled skin cancer. One of the signs was a new or changing lesion which alarmed me because I had only had this mole for 6 months. I went in for the biopsy and the doctor assured me I most likely did not have anything to worry about. A few days later, I got the call that I needed to come into the office. I immediately knew the biopsy results were bad or else they would of told me over the phone my results. Turns out, I had invasive melanoma, the superficial spreading type aka the most dangerous form of skin cancer. I was sent to a surgical oncologist two days later where I then was scheduled for surgery two days after that. The urgency of my health care team frightened me even more. I went through a wide local excision and a sentinel node biopsy where they determined the melanoma in fact spread to my lymph nodes. I was devastated. I remember my mom, my grandmother, and I all crying in the bathroom at the surgeon’s office when we got the results. I requested to see a Melanoma specialist at Vanderbilt- Ingram Cancer Center who went over my options for treatment and we chose immunotherapy to lessen the chances of recurrence. I was still young so I planned to fight. I was able to complete all 13 rounds of treatment with minimal side effects (dry mouth, itchy skin, and colitis). Luckily, most of those side effects are gone now 1.5 years post-treatment and have been NED since. I did have a melanoma in situ removed from my back in January 2021. I am diligent about my skins checks, but had I not been, the melanoma in situ could have definitely been worst like my first lession. My best advice to anyone who receives a Melanoma diagnosis is to absolutely stay positive (if you can) and lastly, “Do not be afraid” is written in the bible 365 times. That is a daily reminder from God to live every day being fearless.

Starr Crutcher
Age 33
Stage III Melanoma Survivor
Lewisburg, TN