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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Mom of 3's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 9/8/2010 - 8:03pm
Replies by: msue5, washoegal, Jackie W

I was recently diagnosed with Clark's Stage IV melanoma.  I went n for just a check up and chose to have a mole removed because it was ugly.  The doc said it didn't look suspicious, but he would send it off anyway.  Low and behold, it came back melanoma.  I have had a chest x-ray done and blood work and everything came back normal.  I am going to UVA Cancer center because they said my margins weren't clear that there was still some situ left and that they would also do a mapping and check my sentinole node.  I am just wondering if anyone else has had similar.  My mole was 1.5 mm and was not ulcerated and also did not regress after removal.  Anyone have any idea what is going to happen next and if some of all of this news is good?  I am only 31 and have three very small children and am scared to death. 

Thanks for anyone who replies!



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NancyGM's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 9/8/2010 - 5:17pm
Replies by: Vermont_Donna, NancyGM, washoegal, Anonymous

I have been on Social Security since 2007. My re-evaluation came up a few months ago. I have been working again(part time) for the last year and still recieving disability, medicare and medicaid. I just recieved notice my benefits will cease. Anyone run into this? I was under the understanding that stage IV is considered a condition that makes one eligible- even if one has been NED for an amount of time. I have no insurance and need my medicare to have check ups and scans. Any advice for appeal process? Thanks


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Jill and Eric in Fl's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 9/7/2010 - 9:25pm

Hi sorry I haven't posted in awhile, Eric received 2 doses of Ipi and was itchy and running a fever 10 days after the first dose, after the second dose he was still itchy and the fever came and he had lots of aches and pains, he said his bones hurt like they did after he got the Neupogen(sp?) shot after chemo, I took all these as good signs that he was having an immune response, every time we talked with Dr Weber at Moffitt about these side effects he said it sounds like its from the medicine and not to worry about it. Then on Aug 23rd, 12 days after his 2nd dose, he woke up in the middle of the night in extreme pain, it was so bad he couldn't move and he had a panic attack, so we called the ambulance and he went to the ER. We live over 2 hours from Moffitt so we went to our local hospital where Eric had received treatment before being transferred to Dr Weber at Moffitt. Eric was having lots of gas and bloating and only one episode of diarrhea and then he got constipated from the Imodium. His belly gurgles and rumbles so loud it would wake me up at night. Eric kept saying if he could get rid of the gas and full feeling he thought the pain would go away .The ER did a  full work up, xrays and a ct scan and could not find a reason for the pain, morphine took the pain away and after several hours they sent us home (with no pain meds). They said the lesions in his liver had gotten larger but they were comparing it a scan in May before he was transferred to Moffitt so I wasn't concerned and figured the progression occurred before starting IPI, well after a week of pain and not much relief we were back at the ER on Sun, Dr Weber suggested we start him on oxycodone so home we went again. Eric was scheduled to get his 3rd dose this past Wed. The oxycodone wasn't helping with the pain and he was still unable to move very well, Dr Weber looked at him and admitted him to the hosp. Dr Weber was headed out of town for a conference but he said at least 3 times during the visit Eric didn't need another CT scan, he said he believes it is the liver tumor hitting some nerves and causing such pain and he would have the "pain team" here at Moffitt get the pain under control and he would see him in 3 weeks for a final dose of IPI. He explained that he couldn't get the 3rd dose so he had to skip it but the 4th dose would be in 3 weeks. He said the pain was either tumor destruction (he said that 3 times), tumor progression but a ct wouldn't be able to tell the 2 apart. Anyway we were admitted Wed morning and they set up a morphine pump and Eric's pain level was still 7 or 8 on a scale of 10, the docs decided to do a ct to rule out possible causes even though I told him he just had one 9 days earlier, they ran all kinds of blood tests to find out what caused his temp to rise even though I told them it was probably from the IPI. What upset me was Eric has not eaten in days and after 24 hours in the hosp they hadn't done anything to help the pain, the morphine was no longer working. What set me off was when the intern doc came in after 24 hours and said the attending MIGHT stop in to see him tomorrow, I had to get a little ugly and ask where this pain team was and why were they not helping my husband. The intern doc said the ct didn't show anything except that his liver tumors had grown by a cm or two and the other in his spleen had gotten bigger too, they say his colon has no colitis or inflammation isn't isn't blocked in any way. They said Eric could try to eat solid food, he was so hungry at this point, I got him a yogurt and as soon as he finished his pain level went from a 5 all the way to a 10, he started sweating, got really cold and he was shaking so bad from the pain the whole bed was moving. The nurse saw all this happen yet when she asked the doc to give him more morphine he said no. Well I lost it,I got everyone I could think of involved and within 10 mins the pain team showed up. They explained that he was opium resistant and the morphine isn't working well, anyway they got his morphine level raised and he was back down to a pain level of 5 or 6 and they were going to come up with a plan. I asked the docs if the plan was to just keep him comfortable until he passes away and they were shocked I asked that, they said his bloodwork was all good his LDH  was high but not too bad. I just cant see how I will ever be able to take him home if he is on a morphine pump. Meanwhile his belly still makes these awful sounds and he says the gas makes him feel so full. Anyway to make a longer story a little shorter, the emailed Dr Weber in Belgium and sent him the ct results and Dr Weber, emailed back and said he was taking him off IPI and he would see us when he got back in town to go other other options we might have. Well the attending doc came in this morning and basically said"we are sorry you have progression of disease, Dr Weber is taking you off IPI and there is nothing more we can do" The pain team recommended steroids and they gave him his first dose and he said he felt better, he got his second dose this afternoon and when I got back in town he was sitting up in a chair he was smiling, talking, laughing, almost his old self. My gut feeling is that while the liver tumors  may be hitting a nerve he was having some sort of gastrointestinal issue that the steroids has helped clear up, I still feel like he was having a response to the IPI, he had so many side effects and his eyebrows which we light in color are much  lighter now with a few white hairs but the hair on his head hasn't changed. I just don't understand why he cant get the last dose of IPI and give it a chance to work and why if they know IPI causes tumors to get bigger before shrinking, why he would be taken off. Dr Weber says that if it is tumor destruction it can hurt and he sent us to the hosp for pain management and now we are off the trial, I am confused. Does anyone know if there is a clause in the compassionate use trial that says if they show progression during the 12 weeks that they have to be taken off? Dr Weber acted like he didn't want a ct because he was afraid the tumors would look bigger and maybe he knew that would remove him from the trial, I don't know I am just guessing. Sorry this is so long, I am in a hotel room away from my kids and I am emotionally and physically exhausted. I went home today to work (we own our own business and I can't afford to get behind)and get clothes, we were here 2 days with no extra clothes or anything, my mom stayed with Eric but we can't afford to keep staying in a hotel for too much longer so I think I will send my mom home tomorrow and sleep in the hosp with Eric, ugghhh I am tired here are my questions:

What after IPI? He has a brain met, had radiosurgery and it shows no electrical activity and is shrinking so we assume its dead but I read all these trials say no brain mets. Dr Weber has mentioned BRAF in the past but we haven't been tested for that, what other options are there?

Am I wrong in thinking that maybe just maybe the tumors appear larger on the CT is because the IPI is working and they are "progressing" before they shrink?

Is there anything that stands out to you guys that I or the docs aren't thinking of? I find it amazing that on morphine alone his pain level was still a 5 but now after 2 doses of steroids its a 1 or 2, doesn't sound just like tumor pressing on nerves to me, what else might it be? I have said all along its kinda like colic but the docs didn't buy into that

Wow sorry this is so long, Dr Weber will be back in the country on Sun but considering Mon is a holiday I probably won't see him until later in the week and in the mean time my mind is just spinning. Oh and another thing that kept making me mad was the attending doc, the head lady of the team, kept calling IPI, chemo and was trying to explain that with all chemo there are side effects and this chemo only has a 4% response rate, it just goes to show that even the docs in the same hosp don't know what is going on. Eric kept trying to correct her and explain to her that IPI is an immunotherapy but she still kept calling it chemo, come on Dr Weber get home soon so we can get some answers!!!



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Shelly in Switzerland's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 9/7/2010 - 7:45pm

I have been on the Roche B-raf clinical trial now for 12 weeks and yesterday I had scans showing that the tumors were still shrinking!  Yahoo! and Thank you God!    Strange side effects but nothing I can't live with.  My tumors on in the pleura and inoperable to this is awesome news. 

Shelly in SW

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Now, I have never before considered myself a quitter. My life has taken me in many directions where I’ve had to pick myself up and move along because nobody else was going to do the work for me. I am demanding, so I’ve been told… sometimes hard to work with, and most of the time a perfectionist. These are qualities that drive my husband crazy while we work together. These qualities especially show up during the times we work on our home together remodeling on this project or that. “It’s the big picture that really matters most”, he constantly reminds me.

My husband, Bob, just spent 5 days in the hospital again last week due to a leg infection. Since his surgery on July 22nd to take out the melanoma tumor and all surrounding lymph nodes (18 that tested negated), the drain tube for lymphatic fluid in his leg was moved and replaced 3 times. His doctor tried to let Bob’s lymphatic system dry up on it’s own but it was not cooperating and infection set in finally. Since the lymphatic fluid did not slow down and infection was now happening more surgery was decided to end the problem thus sending Bob home 5 days later with an “open wound”.

Nurse Ratched (that’s me, Bob’s funny nickname for me from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) was not very happy and demoted herself to “Candy Striper”. The reason? “Gauze Packing For An Open Wound”, it has lots of history so “they” say… My stomach started to turn.

Gauze packing for an open wound deep enough to see into the crater the doctor had made into my husband’s leg was just was enough to make me question my role as his caretaker. I never wanted to be a nurse and who signed me up anyway? Well, this was a volunteer position, right? I can’t be fired, right? Ok… that was a whine, I admit it. I’m so sorry, Bob. He has been the greatest patient I could ever ask for, really. All I’ve done so far is fetch, reach places he couldn’t and make sure he takes extra care of himself. But this was a definite line I was drawing. I couldn’t go near him and look at this wound in his leg as he tended to his cleaning of it morning and night, no stomach for it… sorry. Maybe if his life depended on it, really? But worry about him, I do. Love him, most definitely. Proud of him, overwhelmingly. In the last 6 weeks this warrior has faced challenges new to him just as I have, with heart and courage. We are going through this together, never alone.

Not everyone is a hero.


If you would like to leave Bob a message please send one here:


If you would like to follow our family blog page please go here:

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Rocco's picture
Replies 16
Last reply 9/7/2010 - 5:33pm

My Trial Coordinator remeinded me that I'll be hitting a milestone this Saturday with my CT and MRI scans.  It's week #104 since I started Ipi (MDX-010 Compassionate Use) trial back in Aug 2008.   Could use any and all  prayers, good vibes and thoughts on Saturday for continued clear scans.  Will get results on 9/20 after I come back from a vacation.

Hanging in there and hoping you are all as well -

Rocco, Stage IV (Aug 2005)

Luke 1:37

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Nebr78's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 9/7/2010 - 4:32pm

I have Melanoma stage 4 , male, 78, heart disease.  I have had my limit of Temodar.  Took a CT scan and lab reported nothing growing. I asked about a particular lymph node and they couldn't answer anything about it.  Dr. contacted lab again and now they said it had grown 30%.  Will never use that lab again.  I have been sitting here for about 2 months and no one is doing anything.  I have changed Dr. once and will not again.  I will not spend my estate searching for help.  I am going for one more Dr. visit and if they have no plan, I will just probably quit going back.  I have said it before and will say it again, Cancer is just too big a business to try to cure someone.  They just seem to not want to treat older patients.  Not much pain, I have lump in front of ear, lymph node by armpit size of golf ball almost. Don't know what the spots in lung and spine are doing.   I take pain pills when pain comes.  I really don't know what is going to happen from now on with no treatment.

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glewis923's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 9/7/2010 - 4:06pm

Dear All:  

First i'll ask Sue (skysar) since she seemed to have hit my nail on the head.....also any other of ya'll that have had lung mets and went to MDAnderson.  

1--  After 1 yr. Interferon i finished in mid July.

2-- Had my 3 mth. CT scan at Mayo, JAX,  which showed increased # of lung nodules AND increase in size of 5 or more "micro-nodules" that have been present since my Feb. and/or May CT scan.  Largest noted is still under 1cm -  around 7 mm -  rest are around 5mm.

3-- I'm ready to go to MDA for the best?? advise/treatment.



1-- Sue/others- are/were your circumstances simular?

2-- What treatment was recommended?  (besides IPI)

3-- How long after contact does it take to get appt.?? 

4-- I am considering IPI, but wonder if something more "proven" to at least hopefully suppress increased tumor growth- like IL-2 with Tremador thrown in- would perhaps be better for me .....and at least buy time 'till IPI  "easier" to get: ie.- FDA approved we hope around 1st of 2011.

5-- I'm fixn' to be 48 yrs. old and in pretty good health other than probable stage 4 mm now.


Any input would be greatly appreciated- especially from those who know more than me-  .....from anyone, and especially people that are/were in same circumstances.  MDA experts like AmyB and others may could give me some good advise!


Mayo in JAX said 80-90% sure at this pt. the mutiple spots on lungs are mm.  


I think of ALL of you often; feel guilty that i only get on here for questions, but so far my only "big experience" has been I-feron.


Love and God Bless EVERYONE! -    Grady.  aka  "ShadyGrady Low Swamps of GA."

I'm Here for Now, I've got the rest of my life to die; and if so, old age could be overated and God does exist.

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 9/7/2010 - 4:24am


I have a friend that needs to make a decision on picking systemic treatment. She is stage 3c & has tumors in her thigh. Primary was in her bottom leg-2006

She was given 2 options Braf or IPI.

She thinks that Braf seems to be easier side effects than IPI side effects. Any feedback on side effects??

If you get a response & tumor shrinkage or eventually a NED status while on Braf, do you still have to continue taking the Braf pill for life???

Any feedback on IPI would be appreciated??

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this post.


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skysar's picture
Replies 3
Last reply 9/7/2010 - 12:54am
Replies by: Jim in Denver, lhaley, Fen

Finally I am going to MDA tomorrow for my first treatment.  Anxious as usual.  We are having issues with Blue Cross approving the standard care associated with IPI/Temodar.  They approved the Temodar, however, the doc office visits, scans, bloodwork, infusion have not been approved as of yet.  The total for the year is $128,300.  My husband and I pay $2000 a month for health insurance and it is the cadillac plan.  My deductible is $2500!!  The people at MDA have been great working with us trying to get around the insurance issues.  Dr. Hwu has appealed but no word yet.  Their suggestion was to have all of my pre screening tests requested by my primary onc at Emory, which I did last week.  Just waiting for the results!!!!!  

Glad to get back on the road with this and look forward to keeping up with everyone on this trial.



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could you please check the off topic bulletin board for some questions about log in problems?

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Fen's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 9/6/2010 - 11:20pm

 A couple days ago there was a big red warning box at the BB.  Said something about information being compromised and I had to log in again.  I did that but now every time I leave the board and come back I have to log in again.  I click the "keep me logged in" box, but it doesn't help.  Anybody know what I'm doing wrong or what is happening?  



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renter9's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 9/6/2010 - 10:51pm
Replies by: KatyWI, Charlie S

My friend had a primary Melanoma removed 1 year ago, had node involvment, now had 2 small bb size areas removed near her original site and the surgeon reported them as transient and wants to remove to get clear margins which may invovle a skin flap for a graft.

Thanks, Rita

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Wendi Lynn's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 9/6/2010 - 9:24pm

Hi Everyone!

I've been lurking for awhile and reading all the great advice and support given.  Seems like this is a great support group and I'm looking forward to being an active part of this community!

I was diagnosed in May after having a mole that I've had my whole life on my cheek biopsied by the dermatologist.  2 weeks later I had the WLE (6/15).  Clear margins after WLE.  2 weeks later I met with the oncologist.  Night before I saw him, I found a lump right at my jaw line.  Pointed it out to the oncologist and was told it was probably nothing.   He sent me to a Head & Neck doctor for the SNB.  A month later I get in to see the new doctor who orders a biopsy on the lump.  A month later I get the biopsy done (9/1).  Still waiting on the results of the biopsy, but I am prepared for the next step.  (Can't even begin to tell you all how frustrated I am with all the waiting, but after reading some posts, the waiting game seems very common!)

I was hoping to hear about other's experience with a neck dissection.  I've searched here and online and really don't find a lot of information.  I suspect that's what's next for me and I want to be prepared with the right questions and expectations.

As for the advice, I'm terribly disappointed with both these doctors that I'm working with now and was wondering if anyone had a reccommendation on locating melanoma specialists.  Not sure what information I can provide except that I'm located near Long Beach, CA. 

Again, can't say thanks enough to everyone for all that I've learned so far. 


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