My Dad first found out he had Melanoma in 2008. He was getting dressed for work and my mom noticed a mole about the size of a pencil eraser on his back that was half red and half black. He made an appointment to see the dermatologist that day and finally went several weeks later and had it removed. The results came back as Melanoma stage II. He had a WLE done and he healed well...we were told he had clear margins. Years passed...I got married, he walked me down the aisle. We had many many wonderful times together. Then in the fall of 2010 my dad felt a lump under his skin about an inch or so away from where the original melanoma was taken off. He thought it was just a spider bite as there was no outward indication of melanoma. There was no discoloration at all...just a lump. He finally went to the doctor after it didn't go away for a couple of weeks and it also started to feel hot to the touch. They did a biopsy and our worst fears came true...it was Melanoma. The beast was back.
My dad had a large tumor removed from his back and also a sentinial node biopsy done. In March 2011 we found out that he was now stage III with the melanoma having spread to his lymph nodes under his left arm. I was pregnant with my son at the time and was beyond devastated to hear this news. I didn't want to lose my dad! I wanted him to see my son, his grandson, grow up!
My dad never acted afraid...he was determined to fight this head on and do everything he could to beat it. He went to Duke University for treatment and started Temodar in the fall of 2011 finally. Insurance slowed things down a bit for my dad to start treatment. I think I hate insurance as much as I hate cancer!
My dad did three rounds of Temodar and it seemed to be working! The large tumors were shrinking and we were all so estatic. Then all of the sudden it stopped working. The cancer had found a way around it and had started to advance again. Duke referred him to an oncology center in Columbia, SC and he started Yervoy or Ipillimubab. I went and sat with him every time and we played chess...something we've always loved to do together.
Although he did several rounds of Yervoy and also indured incredibly painful radiation, this evil beast of a disease would not slow down. He was sent home to be on hospice care on May 1st, 2012 after finding that the cancer had overtaken his lungs. His doctors thought it would be best to stop and to let him go home to wait out his final days in the comfort of his own home. My dad passed away 5 days later on May 5, 2012. He was the most brilliant, amazing, funny, kind, courageous man I've ever known and I will never forget him. He was so brave through everything and even tried to comfort me when I was hysterical when really he was the one needing to be comforted. He was the best dad ever and I am so lucky to have had him for 30 years.
My sweet Dad...I miss you so much!! I feel like it's already been 20 years since I've seen you but it's only been not even a week!! Please come see me like you promised me you would. I will be looking for you everywhere. I will never stop educating people on this terrible disease! I know that's what you would have wanted me to do! I love you Dad...until we meet again.