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Melanoma Can’t Have Me!

My first melanoma was fall of 2000. I had a small little dark spot on left forearm. It looked weird. I am a freckly and fair skinned person so having spots is not unusual. This one looked suspicious.

Testing for spread

I went to the clinic at the university and had it removed. It came back melanoma, Clark level 4. The doctor recommended a sentinel node biopsy.

I had 3 or 4 nodes removed from my left armpit and the results came back that there was no cancer in them! I was scared and happy. I followed up with x-rays and blood work for 10 years.

A lump growing

It was almost 10 years exactly when I felt a lump growing in my left armpit. It kept growing and growing. I had a needle biopsy that did not diagnose it, I had a mammogram and ultrasound and we still did not know what it was.

After a CAT scan it was determined that the melanoma was back. I had a doctor who tried to remove the tumor in my left armpit and all he found was a large mass inside of me.

We didn’t give up

I was stage 4 melanoma by the time I made it to the John Wayne Cancer Center, Christmas time, 2010. The cancer had spread to my lungs and bones and the tumor was 16 cm. I was dying.

I was led to Dr. Hamid at the Angeles Clinic where they tried an experimental treatment called biochemotherapy. I endured 5 rounds of this treatment that is chemotherapy and immunotherapy (interferon and IL-2).

I finished treatment in 2011. I have been NED for 7 1/2 years. I am grateful for the very supportive melanoma support communities I am a part of and beyond grateful for the doctors that do not give up on people like me! I was a hopeless case and I am still alive!

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Comments

  • Moonmomma
    3 months ago

    You are so brave and strong. Your story is inspirational. I am so glad the treatment worked! I don’t know you, but I am sure you have tons of people that are glad you endured treatment and are stronger today for that. Dealing with skin cancer is so much more than the average person thinks. May you continue to be cancer free!

  • Renee Feldman moderator
    5 months ago

    @strongsteph Your story is so inspiring. Thank you for offering hope to others. I love your last sentence, where you express gratitude for the doctors who did not give up on you. Please keep us posted as to how you’re doing. Renee SkinCancer.Net Moderator

  • Moonmomma
    5 months ago

    Oh my goodness you have been through so much. You are such a strong surviver. Your story gives me hope. Thank you for sharing. I hope and pray you continue on NED!

  • Renee Feldman moderator
    5 months ago

    @moonmomma Your words to @strongsteph are so kind and supportive! Thank you. Renee SkinCancer.Net Moderator

  • Eileen.B moderator
    9 months ago

    Wow @strongsteph, you went from “hopeless” to spreading hope to everyone! Thanks so much for sharing your journey as a survivor; I bet you had some really tough days. How often do you go for screenings nowadays? -Eileen, SkinCancer.net Team

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