Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Thankful That My Journey Continues

To say that my skin cancer journey has been full of highs and lows would be an understatement. In 1995, I was first diagnosed with melanoma in situ on my right shoulder. Since then I have had eight melanomas – and one basal cell carcinoma – removed from my body. That’s almost 25 years of wearing sun screen and ball caps, frequent dermatology appointments, and spreading the news about the dangers of excessive sun exposure.

But, unfortunately, my skin cancer journey reached its first major low in late 2011 when a previously biopsied lesion turned into a Stage II tumor. I underwent emergency surgery with extensive plastic surgery on my upper back. I even endured a few months of physical therapy to regain my strength.

While the surgical margins were clear, melanoma still found its way into my bloodstream, so the second major low occurred in July 2013 after a PET scan revealed metastases in both of my lungs. As of August 2013, I have been on an oral chemotherapy drug, which has kept my tumors small and stable. That was almost six years ago!

But I’m most thankful for what I’ve been able to do and experience since 2011 (and 2013). I’ve seen my children graduate from both high school and college. I’ve been able to extensively travel with my wife and enjoy our time together. Yes, we go to the beach or the mountains every year. I will not let skin cancer keep from doing the things I love!

My journey continues to have curves and bumps, but I now appreciate those small things in life that truly mean the most.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


    11 months ago

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am a Stage IIIa survivor (diagnosed 11 years ago). You have been through quite the battle!! It is hopeful that more and more drugs have been approved in recent years and I hope you continue to benefit from the treatment and thrive!

  • Ken Billett moderator author
    11 months ago

    Thanks so much.

  • Nina M moderator
    11 months ago

    @KB84, I can’t thank you enough for being willing to tell this story. Not everyone can put into words so eloquently what they’ve been through, and it needs to be heard. You remind me a lot of what T.J. talks about in his more personal articles here: He was diagnosed right away with advanced skin cancer, and he still deals with fear of recurrence. But he also says the same thing you’re saying – it makes you treasure each moment and each person. And gets you out doing what you love more often! Looking forward to seeing you around the community. – Nina, Team

  • Ken Billett moderator author
    11 months ago

    Thanks, Nina. I appreciate the opportunity and platform to share my story.

  • Poll