John White

Dealing with Stage IV Melanoma

Melanoma My name is John White. I'm 58 years old. For about a year and a half I had a growth on my chest. My family tried to get me to go to the doctor but I just refused, as I felt I could deal with it myself. After all I'm a guy: I can handle it. Well, inside a year it had grown to the size of a tennis ball. I still felt pretty good and had my otherwise good health. Then this growth started to hurt and I began experiencing sharp pains throughout the day. Many times I could block them out as I do a lot of meditation so there was not much pain on most days. I finally decided to go to my doctor who sent me to outpatient services to have it removed. I’ll never forget the expression on that doctor’s face: I could tell it was the largest thing he had ever seen. However, he refused to remove it even though I tried to talk him into it. He then sent me to a surgeon, who then sent me out for every test in the book: MRI, CT Scan, Pet scan, biopsy. Lucky for me, every thing came back clean except the biopsy which showed melanoma. I remember that call well. It was such a shock to me. After a day I got back to my positive self and said “It’s no big deal. I'm clean. Let’s get rid of this thing.” So we scheduled surgery to get the growth removed. After a fewhours in the operating room and a week in the hospital I was out and clean. I remember talking to the oncologist and he was talking about some medicines but I asked, “Why?I'm clean. No need sign up until the operation.” My body is drug free: I do not even take aspirin. So I declined. This was back in October 2012 It wasn’t until January 2013 that the lump came back, growing bigger and larger than the first one. I was very disappointed! Oh well. Back to the doctor and, yes, he wanted to cut it out again. I had to go back to do all the tests and another operation and skingraft. This time at least, I spent only one day in the hospital. The big difference this time was that a few months later when I saw the oncologist, he then told me very quickly I now had stage IV melanoma, and there are no cures. He gave me some options: The largest being if I had the BRAF. Which, guess what, I do not, so I started my first treatment of Ipilimumab in mid-May. I am very fortunate that I have a lot of people pulling for me. The toughest thing for me is helping to keep my wife strong. I would say if you think you have something strange going on with your body get to the doctor. Get it checked out as early as you can! This is a very dangerous cancer and not something to mess with. If caught early it can be very curable, but if you wait toolong then it can be a tough battle. As for me, I'm strong and tough. I will beat this cancer. I'm staying very positive withthe treatments I am undergoing. I shall keep you all posted. I will add to myself to this survivor list. Thank You and always wear your sunscreen! John White May 2013 Have a great day

Mon, 2013-10-14

Comments

stephmcd16 - (11/17/2013 - 8:26pm)

Same here everyone kept trying to tell me to go to the dermatologist and I never would.

One day at a time - (2/15/2014 - 7:18pm)

My husband is 55 and like you has been diagnosed with Stage 4 that has metastasized in his lungs, liver, lymph nodes and his brain. As his wife and "nurse in practice" I commend you on your great attitude! I have become his advocate and researcher from day one. It's so important to stay hopeful and become proactive in our health. I immediately set in motion a second opinion with UCLA melanoma specialists to make sure our oncologist was providing the correct tests treatment, etc. They confirmed all but suggested an MRI on his brain immediately which we requested and they found numerous tumors in his brain. He was first diagnosed 10.4,2013 with melanoma and has been on Zelboraf since 11.7.13. He just completed 15 sessions of whole brain radiation and next up radio surgery. At UCLA we were advised that they are making amazing progress monthly with new drugs for Melanoma, Best wishes to you and your family.