MPIP: Melanoma Patients Information Page

The MPIP is the oldest and largest community of people affected by melanoma hosted through the Melanoma Research Foundation. It is designed to provide support and information to caregivers, patients, family and friends. Once you have been touched by melanoma—either as a patient or as a family member or friend of a patient—you become part of a community. It is not a community anyone joins willingly. But if you must be part of this group, you will find no better place to find the tools you need in your journey with this cancer, and the friends who can make that journey more bearable.

The information on the bulletin board is open and accessible to everyone. To add a new topic or to post a reply, you must be a registered user. Please note that you will be able to post both topics and replies anonymously even though you are logged in. All posts must abide by MRF posting policies.

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Phil S's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 11/8/2011 - 10:34pm

Phil and I are headed to MD Anderson this week for our first appointment on Thursday, so if anyone is around and wants to grab tea/lunch please let us know. I think JanOC and Robyn44 might be around, if we overlap days and can get together great! First time to Houston, so hope it goes well and we get offered some effective treatment. Leaving our two young children at home, so a little stressful and sad, thank God for family members who Love them. We would love to connect with other warriors in the fight, our recent battle with brain mets has been scary, but currently manageable. I take iPad so will check emails daily, Blessings to all, Valerie (Phil's wife)

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Jan in OC's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 11/8/2011 - 7:10am


Well, we have had a wild ride here in Houston.  Just to update, in late August, Dirk had new brain mets & they were growing very fast (not clustered , but all over the brain).   First, surgery to remove the largest tumor, followed by 3 weeks of healing.  Early September was Bio-Chemo round #1, then 10 days of WBR immediately after chemo. After 5 days of recovery, another round of Bio-Chemo in mid-October.  After two weeks of recovery, the "dreaded" CT and MRI on Nov 1st.  

We met with Dr. Papa on Wednesday to review. Good news is that "most" of the tumors in his liver and lungs have not grown any larger since the start of bio-chemo.  BAD news is that none of the tumors are shrinking. The disappointing news is the MRI shows that he has several brain mets that have gotten larger.  We are waiting on MD radiation team to (hopefully) schedule Gamma knife on those.  

Dirk has some memory loss (almost like early alzheimers), reduced hearing in both ears and reduced vision in left eye.  We are hoping that some of his side effect will get better with time.  It is difficult to know what is chemo brain, craniotomy or from WBR.  

Papa has told us no more Bio-Chemo right now. He feels it is not worth it as there was no benefit (shrinkage).  He proposed starting him on Abraxene(?).  He also told us that the TIL's are no longer an option.  What to do? Don't know what (if anything) is left to us.  Anyone with suggestions? Words of Wisdom?

We have tried Interferon, done trials with BRAF, IPI and E-7080, and now Bio-Chemo (mixed 5 drugs including IL-2 and temodar).  Have had SRS, WBR and Craniotomy for Brain mets.  His tumor burden just keeps getting heavier.  We received the "talk" with the NP regarding quality of life VS quantity.  Dirk was surprised that it came up.  He did not think we are at that point.   

We are going to de-stress and just live this week!  Maybe take a drive to Galveston to see the Gulf (Dirk has not been there yet). What is there to do around Houston that will not use up a lot of his energy? Suggestions for fun are welcome.

Jan, wife to Dirk stage IV



laughter is the best medicine

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lhaley's picture
Replies 12
Last reply 11/15/2011 - 8:04pm

There have always been a few new at a time that have developed brain mets.  These last few weeks there seems to be many that have posted lately.  Unfortunately even during these short weeks Don has not only developed mets but also has passed. 

Some of you are already doing great! Some have had brain mets in the past and doing well.  Some are struggling.

Post and give a little info so that we can gain infor from you.


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nickmac56's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 11/7/2011 - 9:33am

My wife is recovering from her brain shunt surgery. With a bit of luck maybe she can go home tomorrow or Tuesday. Still have some work to do to get her off a catheter (so she needs to be able to walk a bit with support) and IV medication. Half her head is shaved (even though it was pretty short already from previous surgery and radiation) but she doesn't care too much given she is going to lose it in the next couple days from the prior chemo or when the WBR starts. There is some tension between the neurosurgeon and the radiation oncologist about when to start the WBR - it is scheduled for this Tuesday but the neurosurgeon wants to wait a bit longer to let the surgical site heal. She has douple vision which we hope resolves now that her brain is buoyant instead of being pushed down on her optic nerve. She is understandably sad that she cannot have chemo anymore (can't do chemo and WBR at same time and the chemo isn't going to work on her spinal fluid cancer) and hopeful the WBR buys her some time without impinging too much more on her cognitive capabilities. 

I wish there was something else we could do, but we are really at an end to treatment and now it's about palliation. That means it's all about pain control. And balancing pain control with nausea. It's been a challenge here in the hospital - with IV delivery - be interesting to find out how I can manage with oral meds.

Her motto: "Don't wait for the storm to pass, love dancing in the rain".

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Lisa13's picture
Replies 8
Last reply 11/7/2011 - 12:11am

Had 2 days of deep depression, but I'm putting that behind me and remaining strong and hopeful.

Even though I finished Yervoy 3 weeks ago and have 2 small brain mets, my lymphocyes as of this week were still high, so I'm really hoping they're going to help keep the micromets away in my brain and everywhere else. I'm a great responder to it, so that has to say something.

I sent an email to my team of Dr's and asked to put WBR on hold and just gamma knife the one that's easy right away.  They either have to figure out how to get the blood away from the other tumour or just get it out somehow. I'm saving WBR until I've got much more than 2. You can either be lucky that it doesn't come back for a while, or unlucky that it keeps coming back. I spoke to someone whose been dealing with 14 brain mets for 2 years!!!  SRS on all of them - there is hope people!!

2 Things - does gamma knife get rid of small tumours right away or does it take time?? For those who had blood in 1 of their tumours, what did you have done to eventually have it removed?



Many impossible things have been accomplished for those who refuse to quit

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Replies by: Anonymous, BrianP, JerryfromFauq, BarbieGirl, bradcope1, Karin L

It would appear that the general approach may be viable.  The question is "Is it to the point that the viruses to be used are undertood and modified and will hold to the changes made to them without joning with the host genetic material and causing extra problems.  The following articles provide some  info as to the current state of this approach.  The last article I list is from the Lativian Center that has been working on this area for over 40 years.  They have a treatment called: RIGVIR.

This general approch is under investigation at some US centers.


    HERPES IN CANCER TREATMENT: Researchers at the University of California, San Diego are testing a type of immunotherapy for melanoma using engineered herpes viruses. Using a needle similar to that used for the flu vaccine, researchers inject the herpes virus into a melanoma lesion. The idea is the presence of the new virus alerts the body's immune system to attack the cancerous area. Daniels said the virus is engineered to be safe for non-cancerous cells, and the idea of using viruses to fight cancer has been around for hundreds of years.


RIGVIR – for now the only preparation containing a live natural virus with oncotropic and oncolytic qualities or the ability to find and destroy malignant cells. It has passed all phases of clinical trials and has been registered in Latvia (reg. Nr. 04-0229), available in Latvia's pharmacies"

I would like to know what the actual trials were and the fatual conlusions drawn by reputable Oncologists.  Would like to have a trial conducted on the RIGVIR thru the FDA. or at leat thru some of the majjor USA Cancer Centers.








I'm me, not a statistic. Praying to not be one for years yet.

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heg50heg's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 11/6/2011 - 12:26pm

Today has been 1 year since I have been diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma. My Dr. says the first two years are the most serious times that melanoma can return, or at least that is when you are the most at risk for reoccurance. Any feedback on that would be appreciated as the oncologist I am seeing is not a melanoma specialist but a general practicioner of all cancers. So that is what I am wondering if after the first 2 years does my chances of advancing to stage 4 go down or what.

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jmmm's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 11/7/2011 - 12:26pm

Does anyone know of groups that help financially with families dealing with melanoma? My husband had to stop working last month, after his cancer progressed in his brain and elsewhere. I temporarily quit my part time job to juggle his care, appointments, etc. We're looking for help with normal bills, copays for dr. Visits, copays for medication, or help with health care premiums. Any thought? The AmericanCancer Society didn't have any help.

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ValinMtl's picture
Replies 15
Last reply 11/9/2011 - 12:08pm

Unfortunately, NCI advised that the TIL is no longer work on the surface area of my skin.  It has improved lesions in my leg but the surface has increased too much and I need to find a new immunology.   I heard that Dartmouth might have an anti-PDI drug would that be worth looking at.  Any suggests would be appreciated.  NCI is an exceptional hospital and would highly recommend going there..I wasn't fortunate, but there are many that are, very caring.

sob  Val

failed inteferon/ipi/TIL

Live Laugh Love Nothing is worth more than this day!

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I'm me, not a statistic. Praying to not be one for years yet.

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Replies by: JerryfromFauq, Anonymous

The FDA has OK'd the premarket approval application for MelaFind, a device used to gain additional information on indeterminate pigmented skin lesions to help physicians make decisions regarding biopsy.

Mela Sciences, the manufacturer of MelaFind, submitted a premarket approval application to the FDA in June 2009. Data from a 1,383-participant trial and a companion reader study of 110 dermatologists were included. The device was associated with 98% sensitivity; the rate was similar in the reader study vs. 72% sensitivity for participating dermatologists.

The device received approval in the European Union in September. It is expected to be available in the northeastern United States in 2012.

To start, the device will be placed in select, high-volume integrated dermatology and skin cancer specialists' practices, according to a press release.

MelaFind is not intended for use to confirm a clinical diagnosis of melanoma, but should be used when a dermatologist wants to obtain additional information for a decision to biopsy. In addition, it is intended for clinically atypical cutaneous pigmented lesions with one or more clinical or historical characteristics of melanoma, not those with a clinical diagnosis of melanoma or likely melanoma.

The device should only be used on lesions that are 2 mm to 22 mm in diameter; are accessible by the MelaFind imager; sufficiently pigmented; do not contain a scar or fibrosis consistent with previous trauma; are non-ulcerated or non-bleeding; are more than 1 cm away from the eye; do not contain foreign matter; and are not on special anatomic sites.

Lesions classified as positive according to the device should be considered for biopsy, and the biopsy decision of a negative lesion should be based on the remainder of the entire clinical context, according to the press release. Those classified as "non-evaluable" lesions on MelaFind should be re-evaluated for biopsy.

I'm me, not a statistic. Praying to not be one for years yet.

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AlisonC's picture
Replies 17
Last reply 11/7/2011 - 3:25pm

Hi fellow MPIP-ers....

I feel like I've been waiting so long for this moment and I know how helpful it was to me, when I was newly diagnosed at stage III, to hear good news stories. I'm aware that there are a lot of people struggling at the moment with stage IV (I have a good friend who is also) but good news also has a place here and I'm grateful to be able to share mine.

I got my 10 year scan results yesterday....brain MRI, whole body PET and a bunch of smaller things.... All NED.

I am thrilled and I know I owe a lot of it to the support I received. Thanks to everyone here for being part of that.

Stage IIIB
NED since 2001

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Lots' of people both on this website and Melanoma International have given me alot to think about in regards to WBR. The people who have recently done it are so happy because it's helped to make the mets stable. Other people are very much against it because of some potential brain problems 2+ years down the road. Why damage my entire brain for something that some people claim won't help keep the cancer away.

Some people have suggested I gamma knife the one tumour and wait for the other one to stop it's bleed. However, while waiting for that, what's going to come up during that time? What do you do to your brain to keep cells from returning? WBR seems to be able to kill alot.

Why is it that I hear that people who've had a great response to ipi end up getting brain mets and once removed, might not return for quite some time.  My oncologist is starting to wonder if the Yervoy has actually created the bleed in the one met, but has no way of knowing this. Why would I go through WBR if this was actually true???? 

This is one of the biggest decisions of my life. I'm willing to do anything I can to keep this cancer from coming back and I could be as lucky as some people of that happening.   How do people in the U.S. get the tumours gamma knifed when the tumour has blood on it and you can't see it???

I don't know if this is worth going through something that could do wonders, but have potential cognitive, damaging effects down the road. 

Many impossible things have been accomplished for those who refuse to quit

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fenny's picture
Replies 12
Last reply 11/7/2011 - 10:46am

     HI all! I'm a Chinese from Fujian Province, the southern part of China. My sister was diagnosed with Stage I mucosal melanoma back in Dec 2009 and found to have advanced to Stage IV with PM (pulmonary metastasis)  this August. So far, she has gone through two surgeries and 13 cycles of chemo therapy. She has been on the following medication (said to be outdated by Catherine) from August  till now. 1. TMZ0.3g d1-5  2. Sorafenib 400mg BID (for PM)   3. Bevacizumab, Avastin   300mg q2w;q4w   Early last month, she went to Beijng for the third time for her treatment and her doctor said one lymph node in her left lung seems to go away and another one in her right lung seems to shrink. But I just wonder if the lymph nodes can go away so easily and start to doubt the PET/CT result. Did they make a mistake when doing the scan or when reading the scan result? The medical standard here in China is comparatively low and there are very few melanoma specialist except one named Guo Jun in Beijing Tumor Hospital. As melanoma patients all over China flood into Beijing to turn to Guo Jun for help, he is very proud and puts on airs when treating the patients. My sister went to Beijing 3 times and not until the third time did she see Dr. Guo in person at his office.  He translated a book titled "The Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Melanoma", written by Catherine, M. Poole, a 22-year survivor of cutaneous melanoma and founder of MIR (Melanoma International Founation). I called Catherine 3 weeks ago and she was very patient with my questions on the phone. She recommended me first ipilimumab (approved by FDA this March) and then anti-pd1 (a new clinical trial medicine). No idea whether you guys have heard about anti-pd1 and anyone is now on anti-pd1. Please let me know if you are and at what places in USA can patients have access to this new clinical trial. Catherine said that Dr. Guo Jun's Rx fails to keep up with the latest development in melanoma treatment, which freaks us out and takes away our confidence in the most authoritative doctor in China. sadThat's why I come here to seek more info from you all.

     As I mentioned above,  I doubt the result of my sister's PET/CT, i wonder if you know any doctor who's willing to read my sister's PET/CT scan she had in August. Sorafenib, a targeted drug for her PM, is kicking the crap out of her and killing her. I wonder if it is necessary for her to take this terrible untolerated drug if she doesn't have PM at all.  So please help find us a doctor to read her PET/CT scan. Thanks a lot in advance. BTW, a stage IV melanoma patient left me a message saying that he is now on pazaponib, a clinical trial at  Chao Comprehensive Cancer Center in Irvine California. It has stopped his progression for 14 months since he was discovered to be in Stage IV. Does anyone of you know about this new drug and is now on this drug too? Please let me know. This patient also mentions that he's taking high doses of resveratrol and green tea extract. Do you take some supplements to help stop or slow the progression. Please keep me informed. Thanks.    Our family is now in great confusion, not knowing whom to turn for help and how to continue my sister's treatment. Please offer whatever advice and help to  prolong my sister-in-law's survival. I really wish a miracle would work on her.  Many Thanks to You All!









Make Each Second Count!

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Jacki, Just checking in to say you are in my thoughts & prayers. I hope that you are well & you are not experiencing side effects from the WBR. Mary

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