MPIP: Melanoma Patients Information Page

The MPIP is the oldest and largest community of people affected by melanoma hosted through the Melanoma Research Foundation. It is designed to provide support and information to caregivers, patients, family and friends. Once you have been touched by melanoma—either as a patient or as a family member or friend of a patient—you become part of a community. It is not a community anyone joins willingly. But if you must be part of this group, you will find no better place to find the tools you need in your journey with this cancer, and the friends who can make that journey more bearable.

The information on the bulletin board is open and accessible to everyone. To add a new topic or to post a reply, you must be a registered user. Please note that you will be able to post both topics and replies anonymously even though you are logged in. All posts must abide by MRF posting policies.

Expand/ Collapse Topic
Replies By
View Topic
beyurg's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 5/19/2019 - 11:41pm


My husband has been recently diagnosed with melanoma. The tumor was in his arm and had a thickness of 0.8mm with a Mitotic Rate of 1. There was no ulceration. They said there were cancer cells all the way up to the margins on his original excision. He goes to the VA for treatment. The tumor board there met and recommended he have a wide local excision and sentinel lymph node biopsy. They said that his was in the “gray area” so they weren’t going to twist his arm for the SLNB, but they recommended it. The surgeon we consulted with said if he was the patient he would have it done. So my husband agreed to follow the recommended plan and get the wide local excision and sentinel node biopsy done. He was scheduled to have surgery about 2.5 weeks from the consult. A few days later we got a call stating that the surgeon saw when he was scheduled and didn’t want my husband to wait that long to have the surgery. He wanted him to come in sooner and he would be with a different surgeon. We went in for the surgery yesterday and they had not scheduled him properly to have the SLNB done. When the surgeon came to meet with him and my husband mentioned it, the surgeon said my husband was not prepped for the node biopsy because he didn’t go to radiation so he couldn’t do that. My husband asked the surgeon to review his pathology report because he hadn’t seen it yet. The surgeon came back and said that my husbands tumor didn’t meet the criteria for the SLNB anyway, so he didn’t really need it. I asked why the tumor board and other doctors had recommended it. The surgeon said he didn’t know but would try to contact them. The surgeon said he texted the chief of surgery to ask but couldn’t get ahold of him. They told us he could get the wide local excision that day and come back later for the SLNB. I stated my concerns with that based on how the wide excision can change the lymphatic pathways. The resident doctors nodded. They said we could reschedule both if we wanted. The surgeon came back again and gave his reasons for why he thought the SLNB was unnecessary and how it would expose my husband to unnecessary radiation, etc. The nurses were telling my husband that this surgeon is very good and experienced with melanoma and he should trust him. Meanwhile the doctors and staff were getting antsy because they had other surgeries to do and were feeling rushed to get on with my husband’s. We finally agreed to let the surgeon just do the wide local excision yesterday.

We are, of course, now having regrets and wondering if we did the right thing. We hope that the biopsy from the wide local excision will be clear. If we get the pathology results back from the wide local excision and it has clear margins, should we feel pretty confident that it has been taken care of and the SLNB wasn’t necessary? Or is it possible for the margins to be clear on wide local excision but there to still be cancer in the lymph nodes?

Login or register to post replies.

Replies by: ed williams

Hey All!
I’m very curious about how treatment differs from state to state, and what Americans receive compared to us Northern folk :) In Canada, everything is covered by the government’s health care system, so I am beginning to wonder if that is limiting our options due to cost.

Currently patient with Stage 4, and a high tumor burden was started on Ipi/nivo as first line. 5 doses of light radiation to help with pain from bone Mets near the beginning. After getting all 4 doses, and seeing all tumors being reduced the pain got unbearable and new bone scans showed heavy progression in the bone, and he was switched to braf/mek. Responded pretty well, but still a lot of tumors. All brain mets are gone.

Now, is where I don’t understand how things differ.
I have seen stories from quite a few of you that had a similar beginning, and then got to go back on Nivo while staying on the braf/mek.
I have seen stories of people given a whole new bash of ipi/nivo after the rumor burden was reduced.
I have seen surgeries. And radiation. I have seen stories of this all combined, and I just can’t understand why it is that some patients are being given ‘’more’ treatment.

Can anyone help me?
If money were no object, what treatment plans would people be on?

Thanks in advance, again.
I can’t say enough how much I appreciate this group.

Login or register to post replies.

MelanomaMike's picture
Replies 13
Last reply 5/16/2019 - 8:16pm

Hi yall, im truelly sorry for my MIA episode, i needed to re~collect myself not to mention im suffering a bit a deppression over all this Melanoma crap...I sure dont like the new facelift on this site, it took me about 5 minutes to find MPIP log in! and it was way the down the page near Australia!! we need a normal button on top like the rest of the websites across the nation...but i found you and i now digress....Im truelly sorry for my MIA bout, i posted a short message here last nite actually but i do not see it, weird, is this the new MRF? wait, i was suppose to digress from this subject...So, im alive BUT i have yet another growth {its a tumor lets be frank} on my left side of my stomach just under ribs, its a "mobile" type so my Derm Doc cant do a punch style biopsy, so, after my PET scan next Friday, my old, old friend and {surgical oncology}Dr. Rupp will view its surroundings and just dive in & take it out the following week. It musta sprouted after my last CT wich was like March, i actually found this one, either I do or the scans wich ever comes first. My scan also revealed severe blockage in my Aorta artery so, thats not good, and they see something in my lower intestine, maybe just a simple palup i hope but, with my Melanoma Boxing Record, im sure it will be another apponent to get in the ring with me...Im still doing the Opdivo, im actually going in tommorow for #17 its still keeping the lung tumors at bay {not growing} my onco say shell still keep me on Opdivo regardless if the mass Dr Rupp takes out is Melanoma or not, the Pros out weigh the Cons...Other then that guys, im ok, im just trying to get out of my darkness, i started a once a week class for us guys with cancer, its a place here in town called weSPARK {spelt just like that} its pretty good i like it, only one guy out of maybe 20 has something even close to what we have, that skin cancer called Squamous cell, so, we tend to gravitate toward each other....Youll see me more, is there any "changes" ill call it with our groups attendance? is every one still with us? i know our illness can snatch us up in an instant...Love ya guys...

Im Melanoma and my host is Mike..

Login or register to post replies.

Anonymous's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 5/17/2019 - 9:25am

Hello all,

I haven’t posted since my initial 2a diagnosis in 2016. Since then I had a local deep recurrence and was put on Opdivo. Unfortunately, Opdivo didn’t work and recently 2 lymph nodes have come back s/p FNA + for melanoma. I was put on braf/mek in March, but after having a lot of bleeding and every other side effect in the book have only really been able to complete 2 weeks off and on. Has anyone had experience with Braf/mek? Did it help? Currently on a lower dose, but I can’t help but to be anxious about the outcome. Part of me wants to have to surgery to get the cancer out, most are saying to look into other treatment options. Also, would this put me at stage 3b or 3c? I’m 30 & a single mom to a 3 year old. Any positivity and advice is welcome. I go to Moffitt just not always confident in my care upon leaving my visits. Sending love and prayers to everyone ❤️.

Login or register to post replies.

Ch256706's picture
Replies 8
Last reply 5/17/2019 - 3:00pm

Hi all,
I am currently on cycle 21/26 of opdivo and in mid March I got a manicure and pedicure for a wedding. Well two weeks after that my nail started to look infected and it was where my cuticle was cut while getting my nails done so my oncologist put me on an antibiotic. Well a month later I am now having the same issues on my toes near the cuticle it randomly bleeds and looks as if my skin is wearing away. Could this be a side effect from opdivo?? Also my tongue and mouth are so sensitive within the last month. I also have red itchy bumps on my leg that aren’t going away. I didn’t have any side effects for the first 7 months and seems like it is al hitting at once ☹️

Login or register to post replies.

MBC's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 5/12/2019 - 11:39pm
Replies by: MBC, Lucygoose

Hi everyone,

Thank you in advance for your time. I am a very fair, very moley late 30's woman who is meticulous in the sun now but had tons of childhood sun exposure (stopped at 19 when I finally knew better). I've had 20 or so moles removed in my life and they were all benign except one in December 2016, which was severely dysplastic. 1.5 years prior to removal, the top layer of it had cracked and flaked off, with a red ring around it. It returned to normal within the 10 days I could get my derm to look at it and then we watched it look normal to very mildly flaky for 1.5 years until I insisted it was removed. I had the WLE and there was no evidence of further atypical cells.

I've been seen for 5+ years at a melanoma center of excellence with a mole mapper and also a local derm. The local derm there usually has shorter waits and will basically excise whatever I tell him to; the melanoma center of excellence is more "watch and wait" - hence the watching and waiting with the severely dysplastic. I alternate being seen at each place so that I'm seen by someone every four months.

Yesterday, I saw my local derm for a skin check. I asked him if there was anything he would take off, and he pointed to a mole under my bra strap along my mid back. It's one that I have had mole mapped at the other institution, as it looks like a round mole with a freckle on it. He said it was absolutely no rush, but to make an excision appointment for when he is back in town. He left today for a month's vacation, so the excision appointment is set for the first available time - 7 weeks from now. He also punched two freckles that are a little blurry and I asked him to remove.

When I got home, I compared the mole he pointed out to pictures I took about 1.5 years ago, and it seems to have changed. Instead of just having a freckle on it (which is near the top), it has a reddish-brown splotch in the bottom part of the circular mole. I am very careful at regularly inspecting my skin and somehow had not noticed this splotch. Perhaps it has been irritated by my bra/sports bra/etc? It doesn't seem like new irritation, but rather pigment.

Since the local derm is out of town, I called my melanoma center of excellence docs and the soonest they can get me in is 3.5 weeks. If I wait for that appointment, we can compare what I have today with the image that was mole mapped when I was last there, in January. I believe this mole has been mole mapped for at least a few years. So I'm tempted to wait 3.5 weeks so we can compare images and then ask them to excise that day if it really has changed that much. I can't imagine that this mole looked like this in January and it was no big deal, but maybe it's changed that much in four months? Or maybe the splotch has always been there and my at-home pics from 1.5 years ago are not great? They are certainly not as clear as the mole mapped images. I feel like my mind is playing tricks on me.

Should I wait 3.5 weeks or try to figure something else out? You can probably feel my anxiety through the screen and I apologize for that.

Best wishes,

Login or register to post replies.

Anonymous's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 5/10/2019 - 2:19pm
Replies by: ourvan

Live 4 today. Thank God for all he has done for us. Looking forward to enjoying tomorrow.

Login or register to post replies.

Zelda_Scotland's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 5/12/2019 - 2:50pm

Has anyone else had a PICC line? What was it like? Would you recommend it?
So far I’ve had 8 infusions of Nivolumab with 18 more to go. It’s only possible for the cannulas to go in my left hand as I had lymph nodes removed from the right side. I have low blood pressure normally and the nurses often have 2 or 3 goes to find a vein. I’ve had blown veins, blood pressure dropping with the grey vision and cold sweats that all accompany it. I’ve never had a fear of needles before and am fine with blood draws but am beginning to get anxious before every treatment now as getting access seems such a problem. Could a PICC line be the answer? My main reservation is that I work with some unpredictable children at times and fear that they may unintentionally pull it or move it.
Any info welcome.

Login or register to post replies.

guynamedbilly's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 5/11/2019 - 2:16pm
Replies by: mrsaxde, GeoTony, Bubbles

After progression while on IPI/Nivo, I'm getting ready for TIL harvesting. The drug combo was effective for my kidney and liver, but not my lungs, so my Oncologist is still hopeful because he said the liver is often tough to get a positive response. They are planning to try harvesting cells from two different locations at the same time, my liver and my scalp. I'm also getting radiation lined up for my lung mets.

I still feel great, just gotta get more cutting done now.

Login or register to post replies.

JS41989's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 5/18/2019 - 12:55am

Hello everyone. I'm a new member here, but have widely scanned your forum as I waited for my dermatologist appointment. My story begins about a month ago during my visit to my primary care physician for an annual physical. While listening to my breathing with a stethoscope, she asked if I'd ever had my moles looked out. Now, the answer was no. Truthfully being 30 years old I really never thought much about it. No one close to me has ever had melanoma and it really hadn't crossed my mind as a possibility. Now, it should have considering I have always had a lot of moles (30+) from my back to my arms, chest, foot, heck even have one on my bottom! Long story short, having so many moles on (especially on my back) it has not been exactly easy to track "new" or "changing" moles.

I was scheduled to see a dermatologist near my house for a skin exam, which I went to a few days ago. I undressed and sat there quite nervously, having never gone through this before. The doctor walked in and saw me for a total of 5 minutes. He asked me to lay down, visually inspected my body head to toe, with no extra lighting or instruments just the naked eye. All he said was "Yea you have a lot of moles on your back, but everything looks fine. Pay attention to them and come back in 6 months." - end of the appointment, didn't stay to answer questions of any kind. I had a follow up with my doctor yesterday and told her that I wasn't super thrilled with my experience. Not that I thought the dermatologist was a bad doctor, but that he seemed disconnected and passive. She told me with the amount of moles I have that its important I develop rapport with a dermatologist for regular examinations.

She wrote me another referral for a doctor a littler farther away, but had good reviews. I called yesterday and they got me in this morning, boom right away.

Now, my appointment today could not have been any different. He spent at least 20 minutes examining my skin with a little magnifying glass light device. He walked through why he thought most of my moles were harmless. However, when examining my back he found 5 (FIVE!!!) moles that he found to be suspicious in nature. As he was getting ready to scrape them, he told me that these moles all had either sizes, shape, or slight pigmentation issues. After scraping them off he told me that he would send them in for a biopsy and that he would call me with the news in 1-2 weeks. He also told me not to freak out because he would call for good news or bad news and missing a phone call from him did not mean I had melanoma.

I can honestly say I am pretty afraid and upset. First, the idea of having melanoma that I could have addressed sooner when I have a wife and daughter just makes me feel absolutely ill inside. Second, the other doctor simply telling me everything is fine, only to have 5 moles sent for biopsy just a few days later makes me feel so irritated and upset. The original doctor said he would see me in 6 months, like if one of these 5 moles was cancerous it could have drastically (in my opinion) affected the prognosis.

Today the clock is ticking to find out results. I can say that I feel very afraid. Thank you for anyone who read my rambling.


Login or register to post replies.

Linda5's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 5/9/2019 - 1:49pm
Replies by: Linda5, ed williams

Well, it looks like my run with Taf/Mek has come to an end with two new lung nodules appearing and growing over the last three months. I have already tried pembro and ipi - the only real impact came with added radiation, but had progression after and went back to Taf /Mek for 17 months.

I’ve been offered a clinical trial which I believe is called the PLATforM trial...spartalizumab plus one of three other drugs - lag525, capmatinib, or canakinumab. I will find out more next week, but thought I’d see if anyone here knew anything or was participating?

Thank you in advance!


Login or register to post replies.

kb9718's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 5/12/2019 - 4:25pm
Replies by: Nympha

Hi everyone,
Hope things are going well with everyone and sending my prayers to everyone. I am just about 4 and a half months into taking dabrafenib and tramentinib daily and have just now begun to notice my hair falling out. I have pretty long hair and alot of it but it seems to be coming out at a quick pace i was wondering if anyone had any experience with this and what to expect as in if it will all fall out?

Login or register to post replies.

RichInLife2's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 5/10/2019 - 12:17am
Replies by: lkb, BrianP, Bubbles, MarkR, Casitas1

I had a neck-to-toe PET scan and a brain MRI yesterday and got the results today. There was a bit of drama getting the scans and a little more drama today, but it turned out to be a drama with a happy ending., or at least a happy second act.
At today’s visit, my oncologist came into the office with a worried expression and my wife and I both thought the worst. Then he asked me if I had any pain in my lower back. I told him, yes, I had slipped on a wet ramp two weeks ago and landed hard on my butt. I’ve had back pain ever since, but it’s slowly getting better. He immediately seemed relieved. Turns out the radiologist’s report on the PET scan cited intense uptake in the L4 region, for which he suggested further evaluation. After hearing that I had fallen, my doctor said that the findings were more consistent with a compression fracture than with bone metastasis.
So, with that out of the way, he then went on to say that the scans showed no evidence of active disease, and that I only need to see him every three months for follow up scans. Oh, and that we should have a great summer. You bet!!
From hearing the words “stage IV” last July, to diabetes in November, colitis in March, and being kicked off Nivulmab treatment in April, it has been a rocky road, but it has all been worth it.
I know that there is no such thing as a cure at this time and that the melanoma could recur at any time, but now there is a much stronger likelihood that my eventual cause of death might not be melanoma. As I said to my wife, it’s time to start living the hell out of life. We’re playing with house money.
For all the brave warriors on this site, whatever stage of the battle you’re in, thank you. Your stories have inspired me and humbled me. I’ve learned that anyone’s story can change at any time and I’m not going to take anything for granted. I’ve also learned that people are not statistics. We are all writing our own story and nobody can tell us how it’s going to end.
Warrior on!

Login or register to post replies.

swalters1038's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 5/7/2019 - 10:07pm

I just wanted to share this with the group hoping it might help just one person! I have a high deductible plan with major medical and pharmacy all under a single deductible. Unfortunately the Copay program provides me zero benefit as it doesn't county towards my deductible. I was persistent and cut out the insurance company and was able to get directly reimbursed my entire deductible ($5500) from Novartis. There is a reimbursement form that is provided by the company (Opus Health?), so you as the individual gets reimbursed directly. It was a huge relief for my family to not have to come up with any money for my direct health needs during 2019. Let me know if I can be of any help or give any guidance to anyone.

2018 - 3C Parotidectomy/Modified Neck Disection, Radiation
2019 - Adjuvant Tafinalr/Mekinist Combo

Login or register to post replies.