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November 3, 2012 at 9:59 pm #20746KerriParticipant
I have been reading here for a couple of months now and thought it about time that I introduce myself.
I’m 51, married 32yrs to the most wonderful man, have 2 adult kids and I have stage 4 melanoma.
My first run in with melanoma was 23 yrs ago. It was an itchy mole on my back. Treatment was surgery, then a larger surgery and follow-ups with an oncologist for several years. It was Clarks level 3 and I don’t recall the Breslow number.
Ten years ago I had my second run in. This time it was a mole in the crook of my arm. It was a new mole having appeared a couple years earlier. I had been keeping my eye on it and one day it felt like there was a lump under it. After getting the run around from my family doc and other dermatologists I found someone who would see me the next day. That mole was a Clarks level 1 and my most favorite dermatologist ever removed it in her office and did the next surgery, too. I continued to see her every year for an all over checkup.
Two years ago I got a good size cyst on my back. Not unusual as I have one on my shoulder and in the past had one on my wrist. I didn’t even pay attention to the fact that it was just above the spot where my first melanoma was located.
Then a few months ago I got a lump in my right armpit. I figured it was a lymph node but I didn’t feel any urgency because I’ve had a lymph node blow up on my before and when it was removed (from my neck) it was benign. I went to the doc anyway and he sent me to a surgeon. The surgeon said that it definitely needed to come out. I asked if he could do the marble sized cyst on my back at the same time. He took a look at it and said that he didn’t think it was a cyst and he was concerned because of its location to my old melanoma. Biopsies and scans confirmed it in August and I also had spots in my lung.
My husband had semi-retired in June and we had been working on sprucing up our house so we could sell it and move to FL. I had been in contact with a realtor there and we were going down the next week to look at houses. Now we needed a plan B.
My husband decided that since we could live anywhere we wanted that he would find out where I could get the best treatment and we’d move there instead. So on Aug.27 we landed in Houston Tx. and quickly found a house to rent.
My first appt. at MDA was Sept. 10. By this time my lymph was bigger than my fist and very painful. My thought was, “I moved to Texas to die but maybe I can help someone else in the future.” I donated tissue samples to two study groups and my doc put me on Zelboraf. The marble sized tumor on my back was gone in the first week. My doc said chances were good that the lung tumors were gone, too, because they were much smaller. After a month on that drug my fist size lymph is a pea sized shadow of its former self.
My tolerance for the drug is very good. The side affects have not been that bad. I had the excruciating joint pain for 2 days and after that was mostly just achy. There were days I’d take a pain pill but they were mostly for when I had to do something, like go to MDA. The rash isn’t bad, just like having goose bumps all over and the fatigue I had at first is gone now.
On Nov. 14 I go back for a bunch of tests then I see the doc the next day. I’ve never been so excited to see a doctor before! I just know I’m going to pass my tests with flying colors. The plan is to start Yervoy then, as well. Not so excited about that because of the side affects but I’m hoping I have a good tolerance to that drug, too.
I just cannot say enough about MDA and the people there. I was very fortunate that we were in a position where we could just up and move here.
Last week my husband and I took a day trip around some more Houston suburbs. It looks like we’ll be building a house when our lease is up. I no longer feel that I came here to die.
I’m so thankful that these forums are here. So many inspiring stories and reading them answer so many of the question I had. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.November 4, 2012 at 4:25 am #57377zephyr66Participant
am sorry to hear about what you have been going through but really happy to hear about the positive spin at the end! sounds like you are really doing fantastic. if it’s any help at all, my partner did much worse on zelboraf than on IPI and she was a responder and she is on it for a second time right now – half way through the infusions. so, i hope your IPI experience is even better than your zelboraf. good to know you are out and about and planning your LIFE out in texas. hope to hear more from you. and more good news!
sylviaNovember 4, 2012 at 7:20 am #57378krissy424Participant
I’m a grandmother from California with 1A melanoma.
I had to type a quick note to thank you for your inspiring post.
Please keep in touch with us!
KrisNovember 4, 2012 at 10:14 am #57379SMLinkParticipant
What an encouraging story. Thank You for sharing. This forum really is an amazing support for all of us ! Your new attitude will heal you as much as that medicine. Wishing you continued healing in your new town. Life is good !!
ShelleyNovember 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm #57380Shirley ZParticipant Hi Kerri,
Thanks for sharing your story. It really helps others to know that even though your outlook can be bleak at times, you should never give up.
I hope things go well with you on Yervoy. Please keep us posted.
Good Luck with the new home build. Its exciting, but can be stressful also. Take good care of yourself.
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