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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jimjoeb's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 8/23/2011 - 9:54pm
Replies by: dutchchic, jimjoeb, lhaley

I thought that I would pass on an idea that my husband came up with for mapping and monitoring our moles. He found a drafting template at the office supply store that has circles, triangles, etc. in pre-measured sizes.

He picked one that was large enough for all of my moles and then used a Crayola washable marker to trace the outline of the shape on me, around the mole and then took a picture of each one. Every month, we now only need to use the template against the mole and compare it to the picture to see if there are any changes.

Be Not Afraid-God is with you always Stage IIIa

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MariaH's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 8/26/2011 - 2:10am

My husband Dave goes in for IL-2 on the 29th.  According to him and his doctors, there is no need for me to be with him for the entire duration, although the hospital will allow me to stay.  We do have 3 children at home, so to be there would require some advance planning.  I am torn between staying with him, and being home with the kids.  I really do not want to leave his side during treatment.  His reasoning is that I need to be home with the kids and continue to work that week and to try to keep things normal.

Can you please let me know what your experience was?  I have the IL-2 list from Jane, and I know it says to have somebody stay with you if possible.  I am concerned about how he will handle treatment and what side effects he may have.  I want to stay with him, but can't be in two places at one time.

Thanks for any input you may have...


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Charlie S's picture
Replies 33
Last reply 8/23/2011 - 11:19pm

Nothing ceases to amaze me.  I've had more scans than many have had birthdays during all my seemingly perpetual skank prom dates with melanoma over my years. 

More often than not, my doc has had to drag me in for scans (usually after calling my mother !) because I  more often than not  would always blow them off. under the guise that I was busy living..  Scans were, and always have been a nuisance to me for many reasons.

I have this game of chance that I play with my doc prior to scans:  I always write down what I expect the results to be, put it in an envelope, lick it shut and when he tells me the results, I whip out my envelope to "score" how I did. .  Probably in most medical circles, that type of behavior would be considered as the ultimate smartass; but my doc is a nice guy and knows me well, so he puts up with me..

Tonight, after again blowing off scans for some time, I sat here and  stuffed my envelope in advance of my ct, pet and brain MRI tomorrow.

NEVER have I had scaniety, but  this time is different after stuffing my envelope.  I'm not looking for sympathy, good wishes or any of that., but know that there are times when we all doubt ourselves and when that happens is the time to step into your strength.

See, I'm not so tough after all !


Charlie S

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NicoleinVA's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 8/22/2011 - 12:13pm
Replies by: Janner, NicoleinVA, DonW, lhaley

I recently had WLE and SLNB; thankfully nodes were negative and margins are clear.  My surgery was preformed by surgical oncologist and plastic surgeon.

I am in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (Newport News/Williamsburg) and my surgeon, Dr. Michael Peyer is the melanoma specialist in our area.  He recommends that I see him every 6 mos for 5 years as well as every 6 mos for skin checks with dermatologist.  This is the second time in 4 years this has melanoma has come back to the same spot and I'm concerned about reoccurrence, not in the same area as they took out alot of tissue, but in other areas of my body.

Any feedback of anything else I should do would be greatly appreciated.  I'm very diligent about sunscreen use now (I was not in the past), however at 44 years old this is a little late as I know I did alot of damage when I was younger.

As always, thanks for all your input.

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NicoleinVA's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 8/23/2011 - 10:01pm


I recently had a WLE on lower left calf and SLNB.  The plan pre-surgery was to do a skin graft on calf.  At my pre-op consult with plastic surgeon he said there was a possibility he could close w/o skin graft.  I told him I was all for that as I know skin graft can cause problems.

I had surgery on 8/11 and they were able to close w/o graph.  I have a long incision on my leg (inch above ankle to two inches below knee) and it is very, very tight.  I'm sure part of this is due ot the fact I had a conservative excision done in this same are in May and they came back after melanoma diagnosis for more tissue.  Area around incision is very red and surg onc started me on keflex Friday due to redness, however incision is clean, no weeping, etc.

My question is this.....has anyone experienced this type of tightness and does it loosen up over time?  I can't put my full weight on foot yet due to tightness and it concerns me to some extent thought I know it is early.  Also, it's fairly numb but I'm assuming this is normal due to scar tissue/nerves and the fact that surgery was very recent.

Many thanks for your input.

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Angela C's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 8/21/2011 - 8:57pm
Replies by: Jackie W, Goddard71


I am scheduled for SRS to a brain met and I'm having it two days before my 30th birthday. We have plans for my birthday and I'm worried that my face will be all swollen, and I've also heard that it can cause brusing. I just wondered how many of you experienced this and if there is anything I can do to try and lessen the swelling and bruising?



Be kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle. -Plato

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Life is NOT a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in an attractive & well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body totally used up & worn out, & screaming WOOHOOO, WHAT A RIDE!!

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I am excited for the first Music City Miles For Melanoma event which will be held Saturday October 8th at Richland Creek Greenway.

If anyone is interested in volunteering for the event, whether on the planning committee or as a day of volunteer, please e-mail me at

If y'all are interested in participating, please check out this event's First Giving page at




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If anyone is interested in participating as a day of volunteer for the Morristown Miles For Melanoma event, please e-mail me at!

The event will be held in Morristown, New Jersey on Sunday September 25th.

If you are interested in particpating in the 5K, please visit to register!




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bcl's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 8/22/2011 - 5:08pm
Replies by: bcl, Tim--MRF, MikeWI

I am fed up with our cultural obsession to be tan and most disappointed that the American Cancer Society is choosing to perpetuate the look. Yesterday on a paid TV commercial melanoma victims were repeatedly referred to as albinos. (I had to listen to this in person at the Victoria public teen tanning hearings.)  If this is the industry, and now cancer society messaging our children are to be exposed to, then Imo we need to address this psychological brainwashing before we have yet another generation of children obsessed with changing their skin colour, regardless of cost.,0,7372058.story


Sunless tanning safer but can have a dark side

By Lily Dayton, Special to the Los Angeles Times

August 22, 2011

A glowing suntan is still glorified in the U.S., despite decades of public education campaigns about the relationship between sun exposure and skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, rates of melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, have continued to increase through the last 30 years. And though death rates from melanoma have recently decreased, largely due to earlier diagnoses, almost every hour one American dies of the disease.

In light of these statistics, it's no wonder that sunless tanning options — creams, aerosol sprays and pills — continue to flood the market, promising consumers who seek darker skin tones a golden glow without the harmful effects of UV radiation.

But is there really such thing as a "safe tan"?

The most popular options for sunless tanning are sprays and creams containing dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a Food and Drug Administration-approved color additive. DHA is a sugar compound that reacts with proteins in the outermost layer of dead skin cells to produce a brownish hue that lasts until the skin sloughs off.

Dr. James Beckett, a dermatologist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, says sunless tanning creams containing DHA appear to be a reasonable alternative for those who can't resist the appeal of a tan-looking skin. "They are much safer than sunbathing," he says. But though he's never seen patients with an allergic reaction to DHA itself, he believes it's possible for people to develop a reaction to the preservatives, perfumes and other ingredients in tanning products. Indeed, the FDA has received a few reports of allergic rashes from the items.

No studies have looked at health effects of regular, long-term use of sprays and creams containing DHA, but Dr. Martin A. Weinstock, professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Brown University, says there's no reason to expect any danger. "We do have a number of years of experience with people using [the products], so we have a fair amount of confidence that they're not harmful," he says.

But some of that confidence about safety disappears when a person walks into a spray-tan booth that provides a full-body blast of tanner, warns Dr. Jennifer M. Fu, a dermatologist at Solano Dermatology Associates. "We don't know if dihydroxyacetone is safe for use around the eyes, lips or other mucous membranes, or for inhalation, ingestion or absorption into the bloodstream. Appropriate safety studies just haven't been done," she says.

The FDA has received reports of coughing, dizziness and fainting from people who've used sunless tanning booths — but it's unclear whether these symptoms came about in reaction to sunless tanners or if they were related to preexisting medical conditions. A number of sunless-tanning-booth manufacturers have said that they plan to conduct studies demonstrating the safety of the process, but none has yet provided data to the FDA.

Sunless tanning facilities don't always make the experience as safe as it can be. Fu led a small 2004 study examining safety practices, which found that standards varied: All 17 of the facilities surveyed encouraged customers to close their eyes, 13 recommended that customers hold their breath, but only one offered safety equipment — disposable eyewear, petroleum jelly for the lips, and cotton balls for the nostrils.

Tempted by "tanning pills"? Beware. The pills work by tinting the skin with high doses of color additives, most often a naturally occurring pigment called canthaxanthin. Though canthaxanthin is FDA-approved for human consumption as a food coloring (often found in items such as ketchup and salad dressing), the dosage required to give an orange-brown hue to human skin is much higher than anything you'd get from eating.

In the early 1990s, a company submitted an application to the FDA for the approval of tanning pills containing canthaxanthin, but the application was withdrawn because of side effects that included yellow crystal deposits in the eyes, liver damage, nausea, cramping, diarrhea, severe itching and welts. Despite FDA regulations banning the sale of canthaxanthin as a tanning agent, these pills continue to be sold over the Internet and elsewhere.

There's another possible problem with all of these products: Beckett worries that they might encourage people to let down their guard against UV radiation. Unlike a real suntan, a tan from a bottle does not provide any long-term protection against harmful rays, and studies have found that many people who turn to sunless tanning are dangerously cavalier about UV exposure. They get a lot of sunburns, they aren't especially likely to use sunscreen or protective clothing when outdoors and they spend a lot of time in indoor tanning salons.

Vilma E. Cokkinides, strategic director in risk factor surveillance at the American Cancer Society, says that she would ultimately like to see sunless tanning substitute for UV tanning — but that's not what she's seen thus far. In a large population study of adolescents that was published in the Archives of Dermatology last year, she and her colleagues found that teens who practice sunless tanning were also more likely to use indoor tanning.

"People are using them interchangeably," she says. In other words, the products continue to promote tanning appeal but don't necessarily reduce indoor tanning use.

There's some room for optimism, though: A study published in the same issue of that journal found that people can embrace fake tanning and stay out of the sun if they get the right encouragement. Female beach-goers in the study received skin cancer education, were shown attractive pictures of women with sunless tans and free samples of sunless tanning product as well as sunscreen — plus a motivational follow-up 10 months later. Compared with a control group, they spent less time in the sun during the following year.

Weinstock, who coauthored the Archives of Dermatology study on adolescents and tanning, agrees that sunless tanning products do have potential to replace UV tanning — but that promoting them may also perpetuate the allure of the suntan.

"Part of the problem that got us into this skin cancer epidemic we've been experiencing is that there is glorification of the tan," he says. "People who have light skin want to have darker skin. That leads to increased skin cancer risk."

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Jean-9's picture
Replies 31
Last reply 2/25/2012 - 3:04pm


This is my first experience with a melanoma site.  I was diagnosed with Anal Melanoma in March of this year.  After many trips to the Doctors it was determined that the cancer has not spread at this time.   My lesion was quite big on the melanoma scale 6.75 mm Can anyone share their experience with stage one Anal Melanoma?  

Thank you,


Today is a choice. Today I choose grace over impatience, laughter over worry and beauty over negativity. Sometimes the only thing we have control over is our attitude.

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Lauri England's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 8/23/2011 - 12:21am

I am currently about 9 1/2 months into my interferon treatments.  Last Monday I had a shot right before bed and Tuesday I was so grumpy I couldnt hardly stand myself. Im not talking about the normal grumpy day.  I mean aggressive and feeling like I was ready to explode.  Not like me at all.  This continued into Wednesday and Wednesday night my husband and I got into an argument and I missed my shot that night.  The aggression continued into Thursday and then Friday and I again did not do my shot Friday.  I can not stand the way I have been feeling emotionally.  And yes I am on prozac but sometimes it does not help.  Now it is Sunday and I have been off the shots for a week tomorrow and I am feeling so much better.  I am not sure if I will start my shots again or not.  I have not talked to my doctor because of insurance problems this month.  Should be all straightened out my September.  At this point I am not sure I want to start them again.  My doctor wants me to have scans in October.  That will be the first scans since last summer. I have felt like such crap for so long half the time I dont know if the interferon is working or if the melanoma has spread.  The day after a shot my legs would ache so bad I could not walk around a lot and I had little to no energy. I have pain killers but when I take them I just sleep so I dont take them much.  The leg pains are bearable just not much walking around. I have some decisions to make at this point and looking for advice.  Thank you for listening and God Bless!!

Don't sweat the small stuff. There are bigger fish to fry!

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NYKaren's picture
Replies 22
Last reply 9/8/2011 - 10:19pm

Hi everyone.  

Got the biopsy results yesterday.  On the initial mel section next to my ear, the ipi has killed the cells on the surface, but they're still there beneath the skin.  The new area next to that section and very close to my eye is indeed melanoma.  Very disappointing to hear that it's still spreading.

I am at week 14 of ipi (had 4th and final infusion at week 10.)  So far, I'm a partial responder.  Dr. Wolchuk said that hes seen people still growing mel at week 12 with a big turn-around at week 16.  But he also says that I need to think ahead as if I will only see a partial response.  Nobody's happy.  I am absolutely not a candidate for another surgery...there's no room for margins either near my eye or my ear, which it's touching.

 Attn Jimmy: Interestingly, Dr. Halpern (in conjunction w/Wolchuk) prescribed Aldara (now available in generic).  I'm to put it on generously (use the whole packet) every night, and cover w/saran wrap for about 30 minutes.  They're hoping it will work w/the Ipi.  He also said that since it's so close to my eye, my eye-lids might blow up.  

Aldera Question:  I know the skin is supposed to react--do you stop the aldara if it blisters, etc??  I feel so vulnerable because Halpern is on vacation this week & Wolchuk is away as well. And I feel so stupid because Halpern told me that it's supposed to blister, but I didn't ask him what to do then, and now he's away! (Yes, I know that there are other docs at Sloan, and I will call them this week.)

Empire BC/BS paid for all my Ipi infusions BUT THEY WOULD ONLY PAY FOR 15 PACKETS  OF ALDERA for one month!  I'm hoping Halpern's office can fight it.

Meanwhile, we're seeing Dr. Wolchuk on Sept. 1.  If I haven't miraculously responed fully to the Ipi, we have to decide next step--a combo of 3 chemo drugs (I stupidly didn't write them down) or IL-2.  They don't give IL-2 at Sloan, but at Yale-New Haven.  Also, I'm Braf negative.

My husband heard him say that both chemo and IL-2 have a low response rate--does 20% sound right??  I'm sure I heard that if one responds to IL-2 it's a lasting response.  He said that the chemo doesn't have many side-effects, and I already know how brutal the IL-2 can be.  My 21-year old son says "go for the most aggressive treatment."

I guess it's wait and see with the ipi/aldara and more decisions on the 1st.

All advice, suggestions welcome!




Don't Stop Believing

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CKasper's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 8/22/2011 - 12:37pm
Replies by: CKasper, LynnLuc, Janner

I met a woman the other day at the market and we got into an conversation about melanoma,

she said her brother was Stage 5.  Has there been a change in th staging system?



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Gene_S's picture
Replies 12
Last reply 8/21/2011 - 6:21pm

Update on Gene:  The inoperable tumor on the head pushing on the spine is gone and has new cell growth on the spine, the big one in the liver is 75% shrunk,  the one in the lung is gone and all the others in the liver have greatly shrunk or totally are gone. 

Hopefully by week36 he can be NED.

Now that is some great news. 

Thank you all for your prayers we both really appreciate them.

Judy wife of Gene_S stage IV since Oct. 2010.

Live 4 today. Thank God for all he has done for us. Looking forward to enjoying tomorrow.

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