Home Forums Melanoma Diagnosis: Stage IV 5 years ago today

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    Greetings friends,

    I am not a sentimental woman and I am usually tough as nails (or at least I make believe I am), but today I am filled with such mixed emotions, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Five years ago this morning I had surgery to remove my left temporal muscle that contained some unknown growth. I was told if it was not cancerous, a plastic surgeon would take fat from my abdomen and fill the deficit. If it was cancer, they would leave the area alone. The first thing I remember when I came to in recovery was feeling my belly for signs of any liposuction, there wasn’t any.

    My surgeon, David Kutler at Cornell, had already advised me, though not cutaneous, he was pretty sure this lesion was melanoma (long diagnoses story that is just too long and boring to tell) but I really felt for the guy when he had to tell me this was melanoma and I was already stage IIIB. I was then referred to my dear, straight shooting oncologist, who told me point blank, I had a 50/50 chance of still being here in five years.

    These past five years have been fraught with some very dark days and blessed with many ordinary

    times. Uncertainty is a constant companion. I also know this disease is so unpredictable that it’s outcome is simply the luck of the draw. Being five years out with stable disease is to no credit of my own cleverness or intelligence, it’s just the randomness of life. Medically, I jumped in with both feet and gladly took what was available…lost my hair, found my hair, lived in NYC for six months during treatment…took ipi…got the rash…scratched til I bleed…lost my appetite..found my appetite…been rejected from preferred trials…felt hopeless…received MIF’s Courage award :)…changed treatment facilities…made friends on MIF…and give back when I can.

    So when I say, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry it is because sometimes I still mourn for my old life, but then I think about all the people who have come into my life and have helped me in some way and I love them for it. Gratitude is a complex emotion…it brings tears to your eyes and a smile to your heart..

    Thanks for letting me share everyone…I hope no matter where you are in the process, that you have an easy day, a day at a time.

    With affection,


    Catherine Poole


    Thanks so much for sharing your sentiments with us. It certainly changes your life whether high or low risk and it sure does feel good to have some company along. Hope all continues on a positive note for you and we are always here to support you, feeling high or low!


    Dear Martha,

    That’s a lovely note, and we can all understand your feelings at this time. Life has such a poignancy under these circumstances – grieving, cherishing, sharing, even sometimes exulting. All very real, for sure. You could write some great songs about all that.

    I hope you’re continuing to do well on the PDL-1 trial – the next stepping-stone across the pond.



    Celeste Morris

    Dear Martha,

    Thanks for sharing your feelings and warm wishes. You put what so many of us feel, very well. I think often of the Che Guevara quote: “I am not me anymore, at least I am not the same me that I was.” But, we are here…together…and that is something indeed.

    Yours, Celeste


    Wonderful post Martha. If this was Facebook I’d like and share it! Here’s to another 5 years of a life well lived.


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