Every single day is a Gift. Fight Strong-Live Long

     I am inspired by the stories I have read and thought that I should share.  People that know me will tell you that I have an extremely positive attitude about everything.  In June 2012, my son and I were on a mountain bike ride as we often do and I ran in to a tree and fell on my back.  I laughed off the mistake until about 2 days later a large lump appeared in my armpit.  It felt about the size of a golf ball or maybe an egg.  I went to the doctor about 5 days later and he prescribed an antibiotic and then the lump seemed to wake up and I started experiencing pain.  I was sent in for a CT Scan and was told that from the scan, lymphoma could not be ruled out so I was scheduled for a biopsy.  

     The surgeon told me that he would remove it.  Once removed, he was encouraging that this did not look like cancer.  When I returned for the results, he was very serious and explained that the pathology returned the results of metastatic malignant melanoma.  I asked if that was worse than lymphoma because like so many people, I did not have a clue.  He explained the situation further and I went through a barrage of tests(MRI's, PetScan, Dermatologist and Opthamologists visits to determine the origin).  It was determined that the origin was of an unknown primary.

     With the encouragement of my girlfriend, I made a decision to check out Duke Cancer Treatment Center. Duke is only an hour from where I live.  I have to say that if not for my girlfriend I would not have learned as much about melanoma.  She has been an absolute Angel from Heaven.  She always asks a lot of good questions and she nursed me back to health after the two surgeries.  In September 2012, I had several surgeries at the same time.  One procedure was to do a lymph node dissection and 17 nodes were removed from under my arm.  The other procedure involved an incision on the back of my leg to remove a suspicious lesion.  The good news is that the suspicious lesion was not melanoma and the 17 nodes came back with no melanoma.  I have been placed at stage IIIc.

     What's next?  I tried to participate in a clinical trial which is a three arm trial.  The trial is trying to prove that Yervoy(IPI) has some form of preventative effect on post operative Stage III patients.  You will be randomly selected from the 3 arms which are either Interferon, Yervoy 3-mg(low dose) or Yervoy 10-mg(high dose).  I was praying that I would be selected for the Yervoy low dose or high dose but was selected for Interferon.  

     During the last few months, I have learned how important it is to savor every sweet moment.  I became a grandfather during all of this to a beautiful little girl named Sophia.  I need to be there for her.  During this same timeframe, my mother suffered a heart attack and suffered a serious infection related to her gall bladder.  We almost lost her but she is also a fighter and is back home watching football and enjoying life.  My sons have been supportive and encouraging.  Each one helps me in a different way.

     I am amazed at how little we know about melanoma.  I am amazed that there hasn't been more money spent on research.  I am encouraged after finding MRF and reading about all of the brave patients and loved ones that support these brave patients.  I look forward to sharing my journey in hope that it might help someone.

     After doing interferon infusions the month of November 2012, I moved to the self injections.  I received clear scans in January 2013 and in April 2013, I decided to stop interferon.  The side-effects were pretty manageable but fatigue was terrible and I was getting no exercise and was starting to lose weight.   After clear scans in April 2103, I consulted with my oncologist and decided to stop interferon.  In January 2013, I changed my diet to the anti-cancer diet and started drinking Xango which is mangosteen.  My energy level is now much better and my outlook remains positive and hopefully ready for any other challenges.





shadowace - (3/2/2013 - 12:03am)

i read ur post on here, i just joined this March 1, 2013

i was diagnosed about that same way as you and am on the heavy dose of yervoy, currently 6 of 8 treatments

my next 2 come in april and june of this year, i am currently at stage 3B and am 1 year into this now, hagd

i am here to learn what is there after treatment