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5 years

5 years

Posted By
seholmes
12/15/2019 10:07pm
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Replies: 4

It will be 5 years since I was diagnosed with stage 3b nodular melanoma on December 29th. I am excited to hit this milestone but also anxious. I do try to live my life with not being over preoccupied with the worry of reoccurrence but at times it is hard. It will be a year since I finished chemotherapy for Breast Cancer on December 27th. It is still crazy to me that I have had 2 primary cancers and I am 45 years old. I did have genetic testing done. They completed a breast, melanoma and leukemia panel. In all they tested 54 genes and there is no genetic link. Which is great news for my children. One of my good friends who also was diagnosed with breast cancer just found out that she is now stage 4. She blames herself that she didn't go to the dr sooner but she only had some back pain and had been going to the chiropractor. How does one know if it is just a normal pain or pain from cancer?

Linny - (12/16/2019 - 9:05am)

Congrats on your 5 year Melanoma NEDversary!! It's scary that you also ended up with breast cancer and fortunately, you seem to be doing well with that, too. When I was diagnosed with melanoma, 2 friends who are breast cancer survivors were very helpful and supportive.

Sorry to hear about your friend. I pray she does as well as my two friends have, both of whom are long-term survivors. One of them had inflammatory breast cancer and a double axillary lymph node dissection. She's a 20-year survivor, and -- no lymphedema. Hearing success stories always helped me. My melanoma diagnosis was finalized in December 2010. Christmas, my birthday, and New Year's that year sucked. But, 9 years later I'm still here and still Stage III, praise God!

As far as the pain goes, I asked my surgeon that same question on a visit. Her explanation was simple but it made sense. Basically, normal aches and pains resolve themselves over time. Any aches and pains that refuse to resolve need to be looked at more closely and can be related to cancer. It was like that with me. I had pain and swelling in the shoulder that didn't go away. It was more nagging than anything else. Turned out it was a swollen lymph node loaded with melanoma cells. I had no primary.

Stage IIIB, Unknown Primary; 1 positive node in left axilla. Diagnosed December 2010.

seholmes - (12/16/2019 - 10:35pm)

Thanks so much for your response and words of celebration. Your surgeons response makes total sense. My care team as probably been trying to tell me the same thing but not in such simple terms or perhaps I just wasn't listening. I am glad that you listened to your body and they listened to you. Congratulations for being 9 years out.

Bubbles - (12/16/2019 - 12:31pm)

So sorry for your friend, S. But, shoulda woulda coulda serves no purpose!! I hope your friend will walk forward as best she can and ditch the guilt.

As far as pain and cancer - I've never had any. At least not due to the cancer. I've had plenty from my "cures"!!! HA! NOT to say that pain cannot be associated with cancer, it certainly can be, but most of the time is not a presenting symptom at all! So...that makes finding our cancer even more complicated! My recommendation is ~ any pain that is particularly worrying to you or that does not resolve is worth at least a call to your doc for their advice.

As to us double decker cancer peeps! Yep - there are several of us here. Julie in SoCal and myself to name a couple. I was diagnosed in 2003 with Stage IIIb melanoma (age 39), progressed to Stage IV (brain/lung mets) in 2010 but have been NED for that one since my last dose of Nivolumab (Opdivo) from my trial in June of 2013. On what were to be my LAST routine f/u scans for melanoma in August of 2018 my appendix looked weird. Yep - that led to a whole bunch of crazy, surgery, chemo and diagnosis of Stage II ex-goblet cell carcinoma of the appendix. And I thought melanoma was enough!! I understand at least some of what you are feeling. Being hit up side the head AGAIN was quite a blow for me, leading me to share a good deal about it on my blog. Congrats on a being a year post chemo!! Super congrats on learning there was no genetic link detected regarding your cancers. As a mom, I know what a relief that must have been for you!

Hang tough. Hug those kiddos. Follow/up with your onc as directed. And....LIVE LARGE!!! May you have lovely holidays with your and yours. celeste

seholmes - (12/16/2019 - 10:50pm)

Thanks for your response. It does amaze me to think about how many people have had more than 1 form of cancer. You are right that pain is not always present with cancer. I am fortunate to have such an amazing care team. I wasn't really accurate when I stated that I am a year from finishing chemo for my breast cancer diagnosis. I finished my weekly infusions last December but continued with Herceptin until October. It was somewhat comforting to see my oncologist weekly and then every 3 weeks and now I am at every 3 months. I need to continue to make sure that I ask questions and advocate for myself. It sounds as if you have had a journey.

I hope that you have an amazing holiday with your family.