News & Press
Pediatric Melanoma Awareness: Shannon’s Story
For our Pediatric Melanoma Awareness campaign we share Shannon’s story who was diagnosed with pediatric melanoma when she was 13:
My melanoma journey began in 2015, when I was 13 years old. Immediately, my life completely changed and middle school classrooms were replaced with the hospital oncology floor. After three surgeries, I went through a rough year of interferon treatments, and I was in the clear. Since my initial melanoma was on my scalp and they had to obtain clear margins, I then went through plastic surgery to close up the scar area and get as close to a full head of hair as possible.
After completing that process, all there was left to do was get routine scans and pray that the melanoma didn’t come back. Six months later, though, when I was 15, it did, and once again classrooms were replaced with hospital rooms.
This time, though, instead of traveling only an hour away to see my oncologist in Orlando, I started commuting the nearly 4-hour plane ride to St. Jude’s Memphis, Tennessee to see a melanoma specialist. I was fortunate that I never had to stay in Memphis longer than two weeks at a time, most of my visits were about four days, and my team in Orlando worked with my team in Memphis so I could receive treatment locally, as well. This second round of treatment was thankfully not as rough as the interferon I had received before, and went much more smoothly. The only side effect I had this time was that the immunotherapy gave me hypothyroidism, and while I will be on medication for the rest of my life for it, I will gladly take it over melanoma. After a year of treatment and two more surgeries, I was once again cancer free. I am now 20, and 53 months cancer free! I’m currently in school to become a child life specialist, and spend my days at dance class and raising butterflies.
Pediatric melanoma awareness is important to me because awareness helps to progress in research so we can learn more about the disease. We know that sun exposure is the leading cause of melanoma in adults, but the cause for pediatric melanoma is still widely unknown. Raising awareness will increase what is available for research, so we can have a better understanding of this disease and be able to not only prevent it in adults, but in children as well.
Life-saving advances in melanoma research are made possible by the generosity of supporters like YOU. Please consider a tax-deductible donation today: