Two years ago, I was waiting for my fifth cycle of biochemotherapy to begin. I was so very weak and skinny and just plain sad looking! My original submission to AIM was around January 2011. I was not sure my story would have a happy ending or a sad story of another who went down with Stage IV melanoma.
My name is Stephanie Bowen, and I am now 43 years old, and I am a Stage IV melanoma SURVIVOR! I am also NED. 🙂
The biggest message I want to share with melanoma patients is the need for us to go to a specialist. When I was originally being diagnosed I was with doctors who considered melanoma a death sentence. A surgeon who was attempting to get a sample of the tumor under my left arm almost killed me by opening me up and thinking he could take the tumor out. I was left with a JP drain in my arm, stuck right in the tumor. The oncologist he sent me to looked at me like I needed to plan my funeral.
I was immensely blessed to have friends who knew someone who knew someone on the board of a melanoma foundation, Debra Black. This woman is friends with Dr. Donald Morton at the John Wayne Cancer Center, and with a referral and life-saving phone calls, I was able to see him on December 22, 2010. He sent me to Dr. Hamid at the Angeles Clinic where my life was saved. I was told I would LIVE.
If you are facing the worst news ever, the scariest moment of your life, and with a diagnosis of melanoma, Stage IV … get to a SPECIALIST. AIM can help. Also, contact the melanoma community online; there are so many of us out here. It will be a hard road, but there are those of us who have traveled it and know that you can too!
There is HOPE!