Diane Gucwa

I'm stronger than cancer!


My melanoma reccurred after 23 years. What a shock! I didn't realize melanoma was a metastatic disease. I had a very small mole located on the right side of my back. I went to my Primary Care Physician because my allergies were out of control. He noticed this suspicious mole on my back and said that I should see a surgeon. He thought it was melanoma. After a biopsy, the surgeon said that I was very lucky because if was a .4 and he removed the mole and went down to the muscle. I had no therapy treatments, because he said it wasn't necessary.

On April 19th, I noticed that when I went up my stairs or if if walked up my driveway or jogged, I felt like I was drowning and really out of breath. I went to my Primary Care Physcian and he thought I had bronchitis. He sent me for a chest X-ray,  but as it turned out, I had fluid in my left lung. I went to the hospital and was admitted and was referred to a pulmonologist at Howard County General Hospital (Johns Hopkins) who performed a thoracentesis where they extracted 800 cc. Two weeks later I was again out of breath and admitted to the hospital. Again, I had another thoraacentesis test and they extracted 1000 cc. The fluid was tested and it was negative. I had a PET scan on May 10th and the scan lit up on the left part of the lung. The doctor wasn't sure if it was cancer or if it was the fluid. I had a bronschospy on May 11th and the test results were negative.

It has been a rollar coster ride for me and my family. The pulmonologist was not satisfied with these results, so he conferred with other doctors and said that I should have a CT Guided Needle Placement Biopsy and the results were conclusive that I had a mass measuring 4.6cc x 6.8 cc. When I spoke to him, he said that it was melanoma. He was very surprised, because he has never seen melanoma travel into the lung. I was referred to an oncologist and she suggested that I start immunotherapy treatments, Yervoy and Nivolumab. The doctor treated this very aggresively, because I am very healthy, to erradicate thiis cancer. I was diagnosed with Stage IV because it had reccurred.

My first treatment, I only experienced a fever, nausea and a little diarrhea. Three weeks later, I received my second treatment and I had extreme nausea and had a temperature of 101. My oncologist suggested that I go to the ER and I was admi\ttted to the hospital on Ju;ly 24th and experienced diarhea, simiilar to when you have a colonoscopy, for eighteen days. I dehydrated and my levels of potassium, magnesium and calcium were seriously low. I was given Immodium, Lomotil, stomach injections of another medication and then I was was given 134mg of Prednisone intravenously twice a day. For some reason, it didn't stop the diarrhea. The melanoma oncologist prescribed Remicade,  which is used on Crohns patients and after 4 days it finally worked. The doctor sounded very positive that this treatment was working, because my immune system went over the top. She was so sorry that I had to experience being so sick. I went home on August 10th. I had another PET scan on August 23rd and I was given wonderful news. I am "CANCER FREE"! I still can't believe that I'm in remission. I feel very BLESSED. I have a lot of angels at my side. I got a second chance. I am now being tapered down from predniisone. I'm on 5 mg and will go down to 2.5 and then will be off the prednisone!

Sat, 2016-09-03