In 1997, Aaron went to the family physician to have a dark spot on the top of his head checked. A diagnosis of melanoma was made and after more surgery and skin grafting, he was told no further treatment was needed - he was tumor free. He started seeing either his family doctor or a dermatologist every 3 months, and although his checks-ups were continually clear, hardly a day went by without Aaron wondering if or when the melanoma would return.
In 2002, nearly 15 years after Aaron was diagnosed, our family's fears became reality. While vacationing in Florida, he experienced shortness of breath and a rapid pulse. Within a week, the diagnosis was Stage IV melanoma, manifested by fluid around his heart and lungs. No tumor or lesion was found but there were melanoma cells in the fluid that was removed.
Our family immediately scoured the internet and consulted with specialists, looking for treatment. Again, we were told there was no treatment that would help because there was no tumor. The prognosis was grim. We never gave up hope and we all remained positive as Aaron’s health started to return. We continued to research and learn as much as we could about melanoma.
Then, about 4 ½ months later, on Father’s Day weekend, tumors were found. We learned that Aaron had extensive metastasis to his lungs and liver. At that time, chemotherapy was started but he just couldn’t beat the 1 in 5 odds – no matter how positive we were or how much research we did. Aaron died approximately 15 years after having a melanoma removed and just 6 ½ months after being diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic melanoma.
Aaron’s case was in no way a typical one. It does, however, prove that melanoma is both dangerous, quick-acting, and unpredictable. Until the diagnosis of Stage IV Melanoma, our dad was a healthy, active, 64-year-old man. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother and friend. He is missed by so many every single day.
This entire experience has opened the eyes of our entire family. Losing Aaron inspired our family to do something to increase awareness about melanoma. Not only is it an incredibly dangerous and unpredictable disease, but it affects an increasing number of young people and it continues to be somewhat of a mystery to the medical community.
And so our mission has become education and research. We’re making an effort to reach people of all ages, to let them know that melanoma is not just about the dangers of the sun and skin cancer. It encompasses so much more.
There is both hope and treatment if melanoma is found early, so please join in the cause as we fight to save other families from the fear, anxiety and devastating loss that this terrible disease creates.
Please, join our family and the families of so many others, along with the MRF, in fighting this terrible disease.
Midwest residents - visit http://www.blockthesunrun.com for information on a fun, family-friendly event and get involved with this or other melanoma events near you! We need everyone's help!