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"Something woke up the melanoma"...or is it "a whole bunch of things have to happen"?

"Something woke up the melanoma"...or is it "a whole bunch of things have to happen"?

Posted By
1/12/2019 12:17am
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Replies: 7

Hi all, I would love to hear others' thoughts on this:

Before my WLE/SNB surgery, I had a full-body check, and the doctor at my dermatology clinic happened to mention that something must have "woken up the melanoma".  At the time, I thought that perhaps being pregnant with my second child was the culprit (the body's immune system is lowered to avoid rejecting the fetus). 

Upon the recommendation of my primary care doctor, I saw a medical geneticist and mentioned "something woke [it] up", and she immediately said that with cancer it's not just one thing that happens, but "a whole bunch of things that have to happen".

I have read "Anticancer" and skimmed similar books -- I should mention I am also a thyroid cancer survivor (had both cancers at the same time unknowingly!), and am a mom in my 30s, so I feel obligated to try to figure out what I did to have this happen (with the melanoma, I have never tanned or sunbathed, and burn so easily that I try to stay out of the sun, so it is a little baffling!).  

My genetic testing results came back with no known genetic cause of either cancer.

Yes, on a bad day I am waiting for the other shoe to fall!

I know it is pointless to be worrying about what caused the cancer to start, I am simply just very curious and would love to have a few more pieces to the puzzle.

You, me and RBG (cancer survivor extraordinaire) would love to have the answer you seek.  I've never been a sun bather.  I have eaten all the veggies all my life.  I have exercised my ENTIRE life.  I have never been overweight.  I have never smoked.  Drank alcohol only in moderation.  Cancer of any sort does NOT run in my family.  I don't think I was an evil person in a prior life, thereby inducing Karma.  Okay?  Now what?  

Would I like answers?  Absolutely.  Do I think genetic testing can be helpful for some in our situation (and not in the word "some")?  Yes!  Would I like to know what to do in order to prevent or avoid recurrence of my known cancers or development of a third?  For sure!  Am I likely to ever be given that info?  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  Then again......maybe I have!!

Having been diagnosed with Stage 3b melanoma in 2003 at the age of 39, advancing to Stage 4 in 2010, followed by 2 1/2 years of nivo (now NED for melanoma for more than 8 years) and ex-goblet cell adenocarcinoma of the appendix Stage 2, followed by 2 abdominal surgeries and 3 months of nasty chemo in the past 4 1/2 months, I may actually have the answer:  LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If you have been lucky enough to survive cancer TWICE ~ make every minute count.  Find what 'living' means to you and DO IT!!!  DAILY!!!

Perhaps someday you will attain the scientific cellular DNA answer you seek.  Someday science will attain a much better understanding of cancer in all regards.  But, the answer I have discovered can be embarked upon today!  I wish you my best.  (And I bet RBG does, too!)  Celeste

Celeste, thank you for sharing all that with me.  I was just curious to hear what sort of generalizations others have been told, if any.

I often find that the pressure to "enjoy every moment" just overwhelms me.  I hope that will change soon.



I thought you might find this interesting, from 'SITC" last year.

Thanks, I'll check it out.

Sorry you're going through this. It definitely sucks.

I recommend the book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It was also made into a fantastic documentary by Ken Burns.