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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MaryMary73's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 12/10/2013 - 12:05am
Replies by: WendyD., Anonymous, MichaelFL, MaryMary73, washoegal

I am a 37 year old married woman, no kids yet but we're trying! Never spent much time in the sun other than swimming during the summer months as a kid at the neighbourhood pool. Don't go to tanning salons. I have dark hair and hazel eyes and I am fair skinned. I smoke and I am a bit overweight. I have always understood the risks of smoking and being overweight....lung cancer....heart disease....diabetes. Anyhow, I was visiting my mother about 3 weeks ago and I happened to ask her for a silly favour....I asked her to scratch my back. That is when she made a comment that sent me into a tailspin. "I have never seen THAT before". Hmmmm...I looked in the mirror and noticed a dark spot right in the middle of my back. Being a bit of a hypochondriac (if you can believe it!), I made my husband take a picture so I can see what it looked like. It was kind of oval...and the colour ranged from dark brown to light brow. I immediately began looking for pictures of melanoma on the Internet. Mine looked almost identical to what I was seeing on the Net. It was about 6mm in diameter. So I went to my family doctor 2 days later and asked him to take a look. He said "oh it doesn't look like anything dangerous but if it will make you sleep better, I will refer you to a dermatologist". I saw the dermatologist 5 days after that. He took one look at it and said "that looks like melanoma". I began to shake and cry. The dermatologist was a bit taken aback by my reaction. He told me to calm down and he will do a biopsy and get back to me with the results. Exactly 7 days later, I got a call from his secretary. She told me he wanted to see me that same day. I almost fainted from fear. Within 30 minutes, I was in his office. He confirmed that it is melanoma in situ and that the depth of invasion was 0.39mm on the Breslow scale/chart. He told me that whoever noticed that mole saved my life. He said the surgery is curative. I had more skin removed 2 days after that and now I am at home, recovering. It was a minor procedure done by a plastic surgeon who also confirmed it was a curative procedure. I will be seeing the dermatologist again in 6 months for a checkup. But believe me, I will be doing my own routine skin checks from now on and my husband will keep a very close eye on my back and the back of my legs.

I honestly NEVER EVER EVER, in a billion years, thought that skin cancer was something I would ever have to worry about. Ever. But now I know better. That weird-looking mole was on my back for at least 3 years according to my husband. He said he never mentionned it to me because it always looked the same...never changed colour or size or shape.

I am lucky. It was a very slow growing tumour. Had it been anything else, I would not be here sharing my story. I would LOVE to educate others on skin cancer, especially melanoma. It could happen to anyone and at any time. I am living proof of that.

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scots's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 11/7/2010 - 8:09am
Replies by: scots, debbieVA, BethA in VA

I live 2 hrs from University of Virginia Medical Center so I'm going to a local oncologists for treatment but I would like to find a melanoma specialist at UVA Cancer Center.  Doe anyone see a Melanoma specialist at UVA?




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Janis B.'s picture
Replies 8
Last reply 11/5/2010 - 8:27pm

Hello all,

For over a year I've read this board and have learned so much, especially about hope and courage.  Now it's time for me to jump in, so I hope someone is out there listening.  My brief history - I was dx'd in 08 at Level IB, had WLE and SNB - no mets.  Recurrance 1 yr. later - three tumors in same area.  Isolated Limb perfusion tried and failed, followed by 2nd WLE and SNB.  Micromets to one lymph node.  Node dissection w/ no further cancer found.  Began interferon late 09, completed induction phase, unbalbe to contue maintenance phase because I got too ill.  Soooo - I'm now IIIC, NED since 2/10.

My question - my dr. at MDA seems to be saying that, with no active tumors, I'll be eligible for clinical trials if/when I progress to Stage IV.  Is melanoma a wait and see game? (sorry to use that word - this is so serious for all of us).  I'm BRAF pos.  Are the new BRAF trials just for those with active disease??  Is there nothing that will stay the beast?  Of course, I'm very very grateful to be free of the disease for these past months, but is there anything for Stage IIIC and holding?

I will be so grateful for any answers.

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Tim--MRF's picture
Replies 14
Last reply 11/14/2010 - 2:21pm
Replies by: Jan in OC, Anonymous, Suzan AB, glewis923, sharmon, King

This drug has had a lot of press over the past several months, based on strong results from a small, early trial.  Today the data for larger trial were released, and here are the key points: 

--this drug is used only for melanoma patients who have mutated BRAF, about half of all melanoma patients

--about 53% of people who receive this drug have a response to the drug (vs. 14% for IL-2, for example)

--average duration of response is between 6 and 7 months

I learned today that the company is moving forward with an expanded access, or compassionate use program.  And here is the news:  they anticipate having this program open by the end of 2011.

This is much faster than I thought would happen, and is good news for people interested in having access to this drug.

I will know more as this develops, and will try to keep everyone updated.




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Replies 8
Last reply 11/6/2010 - 7:25pm

New subscriber looking for anyone who can relate to vulvar melanoma or who has had experience using aldara cream??

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Hello All,

I've attended the past few symposiums presented by the MFNE and found them excellent resources. 

Jerry from Cape Cod.

An Evening with the Experts

A presentation of the latest in melanoma treatment and research

An opportunity for education, discussion & connection for patients,
survivors, families & friends

Tuesday, November 16, 6:30 – 9:00 pm

Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Jimmy Fund Auditorium
35 Binney Street, Boston, MA

F. Stephen Hodi, MD, Clinical Director, Melanoma Program, Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Donald P. Lawrence, MD, Clinical Director, Center for Melanoma, Mass General Hospital
Anand Mohadevan, MD, Radiation Oncology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

    Dana Farber Cancer Institute
    Jimmy Fund Auditorium
    35 Binney Street, Boston, MA

Melanoma Foundation of New England at (978) 371-5613 or

Free Admission, Refreshments, Free Parking (in the Smith Building at 1 Jimmy Fund Way)

It's about kickin' Melanoma's butt! "Meh. Get on with it. Do not feed rabid monkeys. To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another." in memory of NicOz

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simone's picture
Replies 8
Last reply 11/9/2010 - 9:31pm

So sad to be joining this club...

I have been reading the posts for weeks now, but just finally joining.  So, here's the story.  I am a 37 yr old happily-married mom of 2 toddlers.   The Melanoma bomb hit our lives almost 2 months ago.  I was diagnosed in August w/ Melanoma Stage 1C (1.2mm with mitosis) on my arm and had the WLE a month ago w/ Sentinal Node Biopsy in New York.  Lymph nodes were not involved... thank God.  Then, my Melanoma team  tells me that I should be "focused on survival" for the next 2-3 yrs & need to be monitored for 6-10 yrs due to the mitosis.  WHAAAA?!?!?!?!?!  Needless to say, I almost fell off my chair!!!  I thought my news of lymph nodes being clear was starting to sound pretty good.... well, I don't mean "good" but you know, not "survival" discussions.  Then they told me that we should not pursue having another child (as were in the midst of trying & really hoping for). 

Sounds pretty scary & even scarier when I go online to research more. Not sure what to think.... or which part of this should be keeping me up at night.  Also, I got a second opinion from another Mela specialist & he said Mitosis is only relevant if primary is less than 1mm & you are determining whether or not to do SNB.  Have you heard this?  I have mitosis, which one group seems really concerned about in terms of risk for recurrence.  Other doc said no longer relevant.  What have you heard?  Should I really be "focused on survival" and also halt the baby plans? 

Thank you!  You all seem like an amazing group of people -sorry we have to meet this way!  :)

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  Had my checkup, PET/CT scans yesterday......I found three new sub q's last week, and showed them to my oncology surgeon and melanoma oncologist. I am not a good surgical candidate given my poorly healing leg post my ILP 14 months ago and unhealed wider excision wound from 5 months ago, that requires narcotic meds for the pain around the clock (in fact I am switching to methadone, oxcy's, effexor, and increase my gabapentin to three times a day (900 mg three times a day, currently on 900mg 2 times a day). So hopefully the wound will not preclude me from participating in the trial....supposed to start 11/17 or 11/18.

Vermont_Donna, stage 3a

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ginakay's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 11/4/2010 - 7:39pm
Replies by: glewis923, ginakay, Anonymous

Anyone on E7080 w/TMZ ?

Though I walk through valley of the shadow of death HE is with me.

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I noticed that Lauren has not posted for a long time. I pray Jenna is doing well. Anyone heard from Lauren???

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 11/4/2010 - 6:29pm
Replies by: glewis923

I am concerned we have not from Kevin. Anyone know how he is doing, please post an update. I was so sorry to read his post about IL2.

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Springbok's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 11/6/2010 - 7:19am
Replies by: Springbok, washoegal, Janner, Anonymous

I came across a couple of articles on the Web that maintain that biopsys spread cancer.

This may be total quackery, but the argument goes that the body builds walls around concentrations of cancer cells to contain them, but that these walls become breached, and the cancer cells escape, when a biopsy is performed.

I am scheduled for a SLN  in a day or two , and these articles have given me pause for thought.  Any comments?

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Nebr78's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 11/7/2010 - 11:23am
Replies by: jim Breitfeller, Nebr78, Jackie W, lhaley, Anonymous

I am back again.  Does anyone know how to get ipilimumab in Nebraska?  They have quit treating me as they think the chemos that will do any good will be too hard on the heart. I have had heart disease for 40+ yrs. and heart is not in good shape.  Maybe this ipil will do the job. Tumors are growing. Maybe the side effects of ipili will not affect my heart.  The FDA is taking a long time in approving it, it seems. Thanks.

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EricNJill's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 11/5/2010 - 7:43pm

Tuesday we found out that Eric has a 3CM Vascular Tumor in the brain.  Eric's Oncologist in Dayton and in Pittsburgh both recommeded surgery because the tumor is new since September 8th's scan, it's vascular, and the size.  So we met with a neurosurgeon today and she said that she wants to do a PET and if his cancer has spread out from his leg and brain then she does not recommend treating the brain tumor.  She said she's never removed a Melanoma vascular tumor in the brain and that they were rare.  She said that he would never regain his peripheral vision and may even lose all his vision on the right.  He will never drive again.  She also said that she is concerned about the risk of infection because the vasular tumors on his leg are seeping and she said that infection can spread to the brain easily when you are doing brain surgery.

Has anyone ever had surgery on a Vascular Brain Tumor.  I am so worried and feel terribly helpless.

JillNEric in OH

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mandys's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 11/5/2010 - 8:58pm

My father started taking the Ipi Trial in August.  After his 4th infusion he had unbearable itching and a rash all over his body.  His local doctor put him on some type of steroid to help with that problem.  Of course his local doctor prescribed only what MD Andersen approved of.(He is a patient there).  His last treatment was Oct. 8th since then he has symptoms of the itching, rash, white patches on skin, and now for the last 2 weeks he has been complaining of bad pain in his back, hip, & legs.  A lot of the pain medication has not really helped.  Could anybody on this board that has taken ipi or is on ipi now please shed some light on what kind of symptoms you have and how long can we expect the side effects to linger?  (Steroids have helped rash & itching)

Thanks so much!

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