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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Anonymous's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 4/28/2011 - 1:53pm

Can your health insurance cancel your policy if you move out of your state (just across the border) and the state would be NY

Thank you.

Insert Generic Inspirational Motto Here

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shellebrownies's picture
Replies 15
Last reply 4/30/2011 - 7:17pm

We're about  4 weeks out from Don's biopsy/lymphectomy and this morning he got up and his right arm was swollen. He said he was a bit more sore than normal also. It's important to note that he is not yet receiving any treatment for the Melanoma because they are still staging him. (He goes for repeat PET on Friday 4/29 and his next Onco appt is Friday 5/6)

He just saw the surgeon last Friday because he was having on and off bouts of increased pain. Surgeon had said everything looked good, no sign of infection, and he removed the rest of the Steri Strips, which did seem to help with the pain. We thought everything was moving along fine.

We called the onco, who thought after talking with my husband that it is most likely Lymphedema and we should look into getting him a compression sleeve. The surgeon's office is getting back to us in the morning about it, but the surgeon didn't seem too concerned (not concerned enough to have him come back in).

My questions are these: How do we know if that's what it is? What are the common symptoms (other than the swelling)? What can we do to make it better/go away? Is he going to be stuck like this forever and will it affect other possible treatments in that area? Will it affect his PET scan on Friday if it's still swollen?

Any information anyone can give would be very much appreciated. Thank you!


Michelle, wife of Don, Stage IIIC (for now)

Gonna stand my ground, won't get turned around, And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down; Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down. ~Tom Petty

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Erinmay22's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 4/29/2011 - 2:17am

March 1stI had melanoma confirmed in my lungs.  For the last 6 weeks I’ve been trying to get qualified for a B-RAF trial.  The good news is that I found out (thru a whole list of waiting and errors) that I am + for the mutation, but my April scan didn’t show enough “active measurable growth” to qualify for the trial.  Now I know I should be doing some sort of happy dance for that statement – but I guess my guard is still up!   

So now I am back at square 1 (again…) What do I do for treatment?  My doctor even suggested maybe watching and waiting since it appears that most of my lungs spots have just disappeared?  Were the rest of them maybe an infection and the 2 out of the 12 they biopsy just happen to be melanoma?  Or is it that my body is fighting it?  It’s so confusing… and now I sit and wait again.  Perhaps they will try Ipi/Yervoy?  I don’t see my doctor for a few weeks.  My scan results are listed below as information 

4.19.11 Scan: Lungs – Status post left upper lobe and left lower lobe wedge resections of pulmonary nodules, biopsy-proven to represent metastatic melanoma.  There has been interval resolution of all additional subcentimeter pulmonary nodules, with the exception of a 3 mm right basilar lesion, and a subcentimeter right basilar granuloma.   

Everything else was listed as stable from my previous scan with the exception of new small bilateral adnexal cysts and stated no new evidence of metastatic disease. 

1.13.11 Scan: Lungs – all stable scattered subcentimeter pulmonary nodules are identified most of which measure 0.2 to 0.3 cm.  The largest seen posteriorly at the right base measuring 0.4 cm.  Calcified granuloma right base lung.  Impression states: multiple bilobar scattered subcentimeter pulmonary nodules.  Although there is evidence of prior granulomatous disease within the thorax and some of the lung nodules may be related to this process, the multiplicity (my doctor stated there were over a dozen spots!) of nodules raises concern for metastasis.   



Erin "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel' Maya Angelou

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Tracy Chicago's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 4/28/2011 - 6:12pm

Hi everyone! I just wanted to remind anyone who is feeling depressed or hopeless about melanoma that there are so many melanoma survivors out there beyond this board (but I do love the survivors on this board :)). Either they don't know about this website or they are just off enjoying life so they don't come here to post, but they do exist and they exist in masses!

I know several melanoma survivors (Stages 3 to 4) who have been around for 10 years of more after winning their battle with melanoma. They aren't people I've met through this board; they are people I met when I received my stage 3 diagnosis 3 years ago and I began that long journey of researching all the details about melanoma. It's hard to think positive, but remember that some lucky people do survive for a very long time and you just might end up being one of those lucky ones!



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LampChop's picture
Replies 11
Last reply 4/28/2011 - 1:49pm

I've been looking for a cancer support group of young moms or young women without children.  I'd love to chat with others for whom a cancer diagnosis has halted their ability to start or grow their family.  Anyone on this board that is in a similar situation to me?  I'm 38, Stage IIIB with strong recommendations from many doctors to avoid becoming pregnant again (which I have decided to abide by).  I have a 2 year old daughter.


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mrsmarilyn's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 4/27/2011 - 5:06pm
Replies by: dawn dion, lhaley, MichaelFL

Hello-My brother just received good news- 10-12%  reduction in the two remaining tumors, based on todays results of PET CT Scan!!  Currently his liver enzymes are elevated to level 1 - not sure what that means.  Also continuous high fevers and chills.  But his trial dr. said to keep going on current doesages.   Anyone else with that side effect-and please check in with any updates on this trial.  We are looking forward to throwing NED party hopefully soon!   Thanks again for all your help-and lets hope this good luck continues.

Love and best wishes to all.


sister of Gary (stage IV)

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RMcLegal's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 5/23/2011 - 2:03pm
Replies by: RMcLegal, Carol Taylor

May is just around the corner and it's almost Melanoma Awareness Month.  Join me in celebration, with some new lyrics to the Eagles' "Desperado".

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kbc123's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 4/28/2011 - 9:22am

My newly diagnosed melanoma (3a) is giving me a bigger headache!  Took my son to dermatologist for his "body check" because of his momma's diagnosis.  Doctor took two not so cute moles off, told me dont worry they are really nothing to worry about and to call in a week.

Dr. office calls last night and tells me that they are compound melanocytic nevus' and that he needs to be watched more carefully now.  Also that the only thing we need to do is watch the area and to make sure that no pigment grows back.  Does that sound correct to all of you warriors out there?  I am sick to my stomach about it however, thanking God that I am taking my kids for this yearly check up and catching whatever may be a problem.

I have a path report and can give more info if needed.  It does also say that the 'architectural growth pattern is compatible with dysplastic melanocytic nevus.  there is mild cytologic atypia of melanocytes'


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boot2aboot's picture
Replies 8
Last reply 4/27/2011 - 2:18pm


i need all your experienced help asking the ONC questions about  the tumor taken out of my armpit(in earlier posts)...the office called today to give me the news and i haven't called back until i am READY...i read the brochure thingy on this website and of course other stuff on internet and info the hospital sent me home but i still have WIDE gaps of knowledge... i still have, i read some tumors are hormone receptive and i still don't quite understand things like'mitotic'...and still trying to decifer BRAF and DNA analysis...and on and on...i know i am to hook up with a medical ONC practising with my surgeon and they have already planned immunotherapy for me..i also know i get 'scanned' in 3 mos again..but right now i just need to understand status and pertinent quesions I SHOULD BE ASKING NOW

thank you for your help


don't back up, don't back down

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kim2712's picture
Replies 18
Last reply 4/27/2011 - 9:14pm

My son Erik was dx stage 3c in August of 2004 while in basic training at Fort Sill. He had a full neck dissection and did one year of interferon. He was going to University of Michigan. Loved the doc there and still do. On March 7th his right lung collapsed 100%. Full of fluid they put in a chest tube, after a week and several attempts to clamp the tube his lung failed to respond. On March 14th they did vats surgery and found hundreds of tumors in his lung, pleura, chest cavity and chest wall. They got him stable enough to go home (March 21st) and seek the care of a Melanoma specialist. We saw someone at University hospital in Cleveland, The Cleveland Clinic and his old doc at U of M. My son decided to go with his doc at U of M, stated "he cured me once he will do it again". The day after that appt. on March 31st  Erik started coughing up blood and was very short of breath, I was with him and called 911 to take him to the local hospital here in Toledo. After they put a tube in his chest, did scans, etc..The cancer had already spread into the diaphragm, ribs, muscle along the spine and one spot on the spine L1. Once they got him stabilized they took him by ambulance to the Cleveland Clinic. He spent 18 days there, once stable enough they started a treatment. 3 days 6 mcg interferon followed by 2 days of cisplatin, venblastine and dicarbozine. While there, after the treatment the horrible swelling started, first his abdomen, then all the way to his feet within a day. His poor testicles are the size of a cantaloupe. They did numerous scans, cancer spread again into liver and surrounding areas. They found that the inferior vena cava was compressed and thought that might be the reason for the swelling. They decided to do a procedure to put a metal stint in the artery, the compression was at the very top, widest point of the artery, so this was going to be tricky due to the risk of the stint going into the heart. After doing the fluoroscopy, they found there was still some adequate blood flow from that artery, a large tumor is the cause of the compression, because there was still blood flowing they didn't risk the stint. They decided due to yet more scans that likely the swelling is lymphatic and therefore nothing they can do other than wait and see if the chemo will do it's job. They allowed him to come home on April 21st. He has been pouring in the protein shakes in hope of reducing the swelling, no luck yet. He is also back to coughing up bloody phlegm.

I consulted with his onc at U of M because I trust him totally and can't get the answers I need from the cleveland docs. He said they are making a valiant attempt at saving him, and that's all that can really be done for him in his current condition. I asked him if he has ever seen anyone survive that is as advanced as Erik, and he said no. He thinks a couple months at most is what I have with my son. I know there are miracles out there and they happen every day. But I am so scared, how does a mother prepare for this?

Ughhh, I HATE this insidious disease....

Peace and blessings to all and thank you for listening.


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dawn dion's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 4/26/2011 - 10:49pm

Hello All!

So since I can't find anyone to chat with at 3 am (can't imagine why) I thought I would post instead!   I go for my first set of scans, since starting the GSK BRAF/Mek trial, on Thursday.   I know we all have "Scanxiety" and part of me really feels like everything is going to be "ACES" but then there is the other half that has all this wild crap running around in my head and I am just waiting for the Dr. to sucker punch me again.  To those of you who are "old pros" at this game, does this ever go away?  I know everyone says just live your life, but are you ever really able to make plans past tomorrow?  I catch myself doing so and then I think "oh wait".   Does this monster ever stop pissing you off?  Does every ache and pain ever stop freaking you out?   Do you ever stop questioning everything?   When you get to NED (where I hope beyond hope to be Thursday) or even stable, do you ever get a sense of relief? Or do you just sit and wait?  This makes me CRAZY!!!!!!   Even though this board scares the hell out of me sometimes I love it here because I know I am not alone - it's not like I can go wake up the hubs and say "so here's where I am" and truly expect him to understand.  He will try to understand, he will be compassionate and loving and tell me that he understands but I don't know that anyone else truly gets it.

So that's my latest rant - thanks for reading.  Much luck to all of you!

Hugs and Smiles

I refuse to let this beat me. I WILL NOT LEAVE MY GIRLS! MELANOMA CAN BITE ME!

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Napa K's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 4/28/2011 - 1:11am
Replies by: K in LA, stillhopeful

Does anyone have any experience or insight on radio frequency ablation in melanoma?  doctors you know of doing it? trials?  Trying to deal with a likely unresectable mass high in my right axila adjacent to the transition of the subclavian and axilary veins. No other known disease at this time and looking for something to do now, even if it is not a long-term fix.  Thanks for any info you may have in advance.

Hope is the most powerful drug

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Here's an article about Peg... Interferon.  It does sound much more encouraging.



Stage 3

Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.

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LampChop's picture
Replies 14
Last reply 4/27/2011 - 2:10pm

Hi.  I am 38 years old and was diagnosed with Stage IIIB on my upper arm in May 2010.  I had two surgeries to excise the area.  Two lymphnodes removed, but no cancer found.  There were however micorsatellites in the excision area - hence the IIIB staging.  I met with MSK and the recommended "watch and wait".  I went to NYU and they recommended local radiation.  I had a month of radiation in October 2010 at Hackensack Medical Center in NJ because it would be easier to do than to go into NYU every day.  (I live in NJ and have a 2 year old.)

My recent CT scan showed something on my liver.  I had a follow up MRI which showed two hemangeomas (no big deal) and something else that is 6mm.   The radiologist noted it as atypical and suggested another MRI in 6 months.  My oncologist at Hackensack hasn't offered any other course of action.  I feel he isn't very proactive with me.  I feel like a number there.  I don't feel like I get the attention I deserve.  I hate calling the main number and pressing buttons to get to talk to someone, anyone. 

SO --- my question to all of you is --- how did you decide upon your melanoma oncologist?  Did you "shop" around?  Do you really like the practice?  The staff?  The doctor?  The nurses?  Did you travel a great distance to find "the best" doctor for you? 

Thanks for any insight!  I really need to find another cancer center and I guess I'm just looking for some insight into how others chose theirs.

- Kristin

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Melanoma Mom's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 4/27/2011 - 5:16am

I know there has been some discussion on the boards about pegylated Interferon recently. An article that Aim At Melanoma posted today makes me wonder if it would be 1) possible 2) beneficial to switch from the standard Interferon to the pegylated? Our son has four months completed of the standard  kind, finishing treatment in December. The major negative of peg. in my mind would be the long duration - five years - BUT if it were more beneficial at fighting off a recurrence, I believe we would easily accept that length. He has very little side effects from the drug so we would basically switch (if possible) because of any benefits from longer delay of recurrence.

Heading to Dana-Farber later this week for a check-up and wonder what they will say to this question ....

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