Our journey began 2 years, 8 months ago (April 29, 2011 to be exact) and it all started with a growth that appeared on my husband’s left upper thigh. Thinking it was from the motorcycle accident he had 6 months prior, he didn't think much of it (as he has many moles and freckles on his body) until it started bothering him at work. After a visit to a dermatologist and a biopsy, it was determined that it was nodular melanoma - the most aggressive type of melanoma. That 1 phone call changed our lives forever. We were immediately referred to a surgeon. The week following our appointment with the surgeon, we were scheduled for CT, PET & bone scans.
On May 11th he had surgery to remove the melanoma and had the sentinel node removed and sent for biopsy. The pathology report showed traces of melanoma and detected Mantle Cell Lymphoma as well. The lymphoma had nothing to do with the melanoma - we 'happened upon' it. We were sent down to Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
At this time, I also consulted with a Traditional Naturopath for advice on a natural approach to combating this disease. Along with conventional medicine, we started learning how food, herbs, minerals & essential oils can aid the body in healing itself. My husband takes many supplements and drinks a ‘green drink’ at least 5 days a week. We have also changed some of our eating habits.
After meeting with the doctors at Rush, we were then scheduled for a groin dissection (lymph nodes removed) which resulted in a pathology report that showed no melanoma, but the lymphoma was present. Since the melanoma did not appear in the lymph nodes, the doctors determined that the next step was to treat the lymphoma.
After several bone marrow biopsies, we started treatments for the lymphoma. In January 2012 we got the ‘all clear’ but still needed to have 6 month follow ups for the next 5 years.
All was going well until Jan 3, 2013 after a routine 6 month CT. Two non-calcified nodules were found on his right lung. Surgery to remove the nodules took place on March 13 and pathology determined it was melanoma.
November, 2013, a 3 month follow up CT found 3 new or increased sized nodules on his right lung. He had surgery on Dec. 2 to have the nodules removed. We have been told that the nodules are most likely melanoma. Not sure what the next steps are, but we have excellent, excellent, excellent doctors and we trust they will help us make the right decisions.
Throughout these 2.8 years, my husband has continued to feel good and has been asymptomatic since day 1. My husband was 47 years old & in excellent health when this journey began. He is optimistic, strong and never complains about all he has gone through.
My advice for anyone with a loved one going through something like this:
1) Educate yourself as much as you can, but be careful. Not everything you read on the internet is true and some of the information is out of date.
2) If you do not get a good ‘feeling’ about your doctor(s), get a second or third opinion. Find a doctor you trust and are comfortable with.
3) Educate yourself about how nutrition and supplements can help fight this disease and help keep your loved one healthy.
4) Stay positive! There are more treatments and trials available to melanoma patients than there were 5 years ago. The key is to stay on top of it and make sure you continue with your follow up tests so if something is found, it is in its early stages of growth.
5) Educate others on the seriousness of skin cancer. People think ‘oh, you just have it removed and it’s gone.’ People don’t understand so I feel I have an obligation to educate people as much as I can.
Thank you all for your stories on this site. They have helped me realize that I am not alone in this fight!