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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dmturner's picture
Replies 7
Last reply 6/3/2017 - 8:04pm
Replies by: dmturner, BrianP, Anonymous, UBContributor, Bubbles

Tomorrow I will be starting a clinical trial with the 2 above.  A bit nervous.  I did 3-10 mg Yervoy when stage IIIa, but progressed.  Then started Opvido/Yervoy Jan 5th did all 4 treatments.  Had a PET scan and progressed to lungs and effected lymph nodes had double in size.  Plus, I have intransit lesions all over my right foot.  The primary was on the bottom of right foot.  I am feeling hopeful.  It has been 6 weeks since I had any drugs in my body and I just feel like it is growing and growing.  I can see it daily on my foot.

Anyone else done or doing this trial?


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AB's picture
Replies 11
Last reply 5/5/2017 - 1:11am
BetsyM1214's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 4/30/2017 - 10:52am
Replies by: Anonymous, Jamie1960, MichelleRHG, jennunicorn

I just got back from MDA for a 2nd opinion and have scheduled a WLE & SLN with them on Monday. The surgical oncologist confirmed that I am a 1A BUT offered a SLN. This confused me and I did walk out of there feeling like I did not get an answer as to why I was offered the SLN. I did accept the offer but was hoping for any info from other 1A's that were offered an SLN?

1st Pathology: .6mm, Clark 2, no mitosis, no regression, no ulceration, 'lesion extends focally to lateral margins & base of biopsy'

2nd Pathology: only differences are .5mm, Clarks 'early 4, only 1 involved peripheral margin. Deep margin clear. 

So.... in trying to understand why I was offered the SLN,  I asked if it would be covered by insurance since I'm 1A? Dr said she would emphasize the sentence of the 1st pathology report where it notes the lesion extends to the base of the biopsy.

I do want the SLN because for me it will hopefully be piece of mind if clear ( I understand never any guarantees). But I just got these results yesterday, booked last minute flights & hotel for WLE & SLN tomorrow and am now concerned that 1. my insurance won't cover it, 2. the doctor wasn't being fourthcoming with my prognosis when she said '99% certain this will not recur' or my staging at 1A. Lastly, I'm a 34yo Female and was diagnosed shortly after my 2nd baby was born.  Thanks all!


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Anonymous's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 4/30/2017 - 2:06am
Replies by: sgreenberg

Feeling really nervous. Everything seemed pretty well under control when I was on the Taf/Mek combo since it shrunk my tumor considerably but my SLNB turned up on lymph node where a bit of tumor was growing and bits of it where found in the fat surrounding it. I had to have another round of radiation for that reason. I'm going through the usual paranoia of fearing any odd pain that I feel, is related and that my results are going to come back bad. How do you cope with this? 

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Julie in SoCal's picture
Replies 17
Last reply 5/2/2017 - 9:17pm

Hi there Melahomies!

This morning while putting lotion on my arms, I noticed two new lumps next to my SNB scar.  I had thought that I was a complete responder to Pembro but alas, it's back. I just thought I was done with Mel. Guess not.

A week from Monday I'll have a VATs procedure for lung cancer. The surgeon will take the offending lung lobe (with Larry) and some lymph nodes and hopefully, that will be it for me.  I can't imagine fighting this on two fronts. 

I'm just complaining at this point. I won't really know anything until Larry the lung tumor comes out and we get a better look at him.

Thanks for listening,



Stage 3  (TXN2cM0)-- 2008 WLE, SNB, LND, HD-INF, GM-CSF, (intransits) 2013 IPI, (intransits) 2014 PEMBRO, (intransits resected in 2017) 2017 Non-small cell lung cancer VATs

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My husband and I moved to Alabama Gulf Coast to be closer to family, following 6 months NED. Before the move, we were blessed with the most wonderful doctors, including our surgeon, oncologist, and dermatologist. IF complications developed, or there were any indications that anything other than cancer was causing discomfort, they scheduled an appointment with and communicated with either our primary or the specialist that they sent us to. After moving, we got referrals to doctors close to new home. We're quite happy with the new dermatologist, but we are not happy with the oncologist. He has an excellent reputation, and although he may be clinically proficient, he is nothing like our previous doctor. I will try to be factual, since this is a very subjective matter. Although my husband has a visible tumor on the right side of his jaw, and has had problems with extreme shortness of breath, and fever, this oncologist has never once touched my husband other than to shake his hand. He does not touch the tumor, nor feel his lymph nodes, nor listen to his breathing. Any complaints about fever or fatigue or achiness or shortness of breath are dismissed as "side effects" with no investigation. My husband was scheduled to be put to sleep to have a port inserted when I demanded a chest xray, and found that he had pneumonia. Port was postponed. Additional xrays taken 2 weeks later. The oncologist said xrays looked worse but that this was "common" with pneumonia. Port postponed indefinitely, but treatment # 2 (Yervoy and Opdivo) was given. Today, I took my husband to an American Family Care near us, along with copies of all medical records, etc. Bottom line, he has pneumonia, probably never got rid of it. Monday he will be referred to pulmonary doctor. Today he was given an antibiotic shot, a steroid shot, and Levaquin(oral antibiotic). If there is not significant improvement, quickly, he will probably be hospitalized until the respiratory issues are under control. He has an appointment for Infusion # 3 Monday. That may need to be postponed. I plan to speak with the oncologist (or more likely his assistant who we see more of) and ask to be transferred to the care of another doctor in the same group. I will explain why and hope that there is a more caring, concerned, and diligent physician in that group. If there is not, we will transfer to another facility altogether. I acknowledge that we were blessed beyond belief with our original doctors, and that my expectations may not be realistic. I would like to hear about your experiences and expectations so I can better assess whether I am right to be concerned about the lack of quality care from this particular oncologist. As always, thanks bunches for listening to my ranting. I try not to burden my husband with it and focus on being positive and uplifting around him, so the chance to vent is truly appreciated and probably vital to my own mental health. So what do y'all think? Is this normal for an oncologist?

Alison - wife of Roy, Stage IV Metastatic Melanoma

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yoyopt's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 8/28/2017 - 8:26pm

I'm currently waiting to heal from my 1st surgery in order to get my 2nd surgery (Complete Lymph Node Excision) at that point my stage will be updated and I will meet with my oncologist to plan immunotherapy treatment.

Right now I feel ok. My doctor does not want me to return to work during my treatment- 6 months to a year- I am a Physical Therapist, so my job involves a lot of activity and heavy lifting. Not working is so strange for me, especially when I dont feel sick...My doctor says the treatment can be hard hitting...its also weird to have so much wait time before I start treatment that will make me sick.

I'm 40yrs old. I am a single mom with a 1 year old daughter. I love boxing, and spinning, and yoga. I love sunshine and water and being outside. 

I have no idea how to feel right now, or what to expect for this next year of treatment. If anyone can help with their experience please let me know.


Dhana Harrelson

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Jdc's picture
Replies 6
Last reply 4/29/2017 - 10:41pm

Hello all, just found out this past Tuesday that my original melanoma on face has spread to left lung just over 3 x 3 cm, scared to death! PET scheduled for next Wednesday. My fear is I just started a buisness and I do not have insurance and have no idea what direction to go. My wife is a mess, any suggestions is much appreciated


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My mom presented to the ER on January 17th of this year with right sided weakness and a bit of confusion. They did a head scan and saw what they thought was a brain bleed. Rushed her by ambulance from our small hospital to the larger one in St. Louis (about an hour away). They did a comparitave CT and decided it had not grown. Surgery not recommended, admitted for monitoring and further tests. They did an MRI with the following results:

"There is a left superior frontal gyrus focal hematoma present. This measures about 1.5 x 1.5 cm in size. This has an hematocrit within it. Within the hemorrhage there is a focus of enhancement centrally suggested on coronal images. There is also noted to be a focal area of enhancement within the left lentiform nucleus. This is T2 bright. There is no surrounding edema. There is an additional enhancing lesion noted measuring 8 mm in the left inferior frontal gyrus."

Neurosurgeon graced us with her presence for all of 3 minutes to inform us that they were all in places too risky to even biopsy and they're probably cancer so 'expect a swarm of oncologists' to look for the primary. The swarm didn't come. We knew Mercy was NOT the hospital for us and we got them to release her Jan. 19th.

Her primary care from when I was a child had advanced in his career to internal medicine at the best hospital in the state. Also about an hour away from us. We went to see him, and I'll cut down all the goose chases he had us go on. PET scan showed one lung lymph node lit up a little. Biopsy, negative. One small spot on 'terminal ileum' in bowels, likely will have colonoscopy and investigate that bugger later.

MRI on March 7th:

"There are multiple lesions within the brain. There is a 1.6 x 1.4 cm enhancing T2 hyperintense T1 isointense lesion in the left frontal lobe (series 20 image 18). 6 mm T1 hyperintense enhancing lesion in the posterior left putamen (series 4 and 20 image 17). 1.3 x 1.1 cm heterogeneously T1 hyperintense enhancing lesion in the left frontal lobe (series 4 and 20 image 8) in the pre- central gyrus. No additional lesions identified."

So there we see that the 8mm frontal has now gone to 1.6 x 1.4 cm. The initial one went from 1.5 x 1.5 to 1.3 x 1.1 (margin of error perhaps) and the one deep in the putamen has finally been defined and it's 6mm. 

I finally tell my mom I think we need to give up the chase and do the brain biopsy. She agrees, and we find a neurosurgeon. He requests a 3T MRI. 

MRI on April 13th:

"The 3 previously seen rim enhancing lesions in the left frontal lobe, parietal lobe, and putamen have increased in size. For reference, the largest lesion in the frontal lobe previously measured 1.6 cm and now measures 2.8 cm. In addition, a new small frontal enhancing lesion is identified"

So that one frontal lesion started at 8mm January 17th and was at 2.8 cm April 13th. 

The neurosurgeon said he thought it best to skip right over the biopsy and go straight to crani for debulking. He said if he could get it all safely that he would, but that going in the intents were to debulk and provide tissue for pathology.

Frontotemporal crani went better than I could have ever hoped. The first neurosurgeon said she couldn't even biopsy. He excised the whole damn thing. She was in and out of the hospital in 54 hours. 

But now we have that new little bugger that popped up right by it. Pathology was available on my app (I know, helicopter daughter) on the 22nd. The meat of it reads as follows:

"Hematoxylin and eosin stained sections of the left frontal brain tumor (specimens A and B) show multiple fragments of a neoplasm and lesser amounts of brain parenchyma, joined by a broad, non-infiltrative interface. Arranged in sheets and perivascular pseudopapillae (formed by perivascular sparing in areas of necrosis), the tumor cells have variable amounts of brown cytoplasmic pigment and predominantly epithelioid/rhabdoid morphology, with variable amounts of eosinophilic cytoplasm, one or two atypical oval/reniform nuclei, and prominent nucleoli. Rare cells appear spindled. Mitotic figures, often atypical, are common. Immunohistochemical stains (single antibody procedures, B1) show the tumor cells to be diffusely and strongly positive for S100, Melan-A and HMB45. Reactivity for mutant BRAF protein (p.V600E) is equivocal; tumor cells show a faint blush which may simply reflect high background staining. 'Molecular' testing may be required to provide a more definitive determination of BRAF mutation status, if clinically indicated. These histomorphological and immunohistochemical findings support the diagnosis: Metastatic melanoma."

IF CLINICALLY INDICATED? Yes. Clinically indicated. Very much so.

I called the neurosurgeon's nurse and told her that I wanted an order put in for genetic testing for the BRAF mutation. She seemed a bit confused but assured me she'd figure it out. 

I also called Siteman (cancer center located within the massive hospital complex, the best place around) and will be getting a return call Monday or Tuesday to set up an appointment with Dr. Kaufman, the melanoma specialist I picked (we have four of them somehow). 

I feel like I'm sitting at a chess board playing the most important game of my life.

Do we go for immunotherapy? Gamma knife? Both? I have a strong feeling that chemo and WBR are useless and probably dangerous considering her age and lack of tumor burden/disease presence systemically. 

Also, there is a neurosurgeon that is a colleague of the one who performed her crani that does LITT. Apparently that's not widely available, much like the stealth guided technology they were equipped with to assist with the crani. So I'm thinking that the LITT laser ablation may be an option.

Do we tinker with gamma knife, risk more bleeding, wait to see if they shrink disappear or recur... Do we go for immunotherapy and hope that there's a clinical trial that would accept her or hope that insurance would cover the 150 THOUSAND dollars that it costs? 

Or do we go straight for the LITT?

I know we'll get more answers when we get in with the melanoma specialist but I'm trying to keep us one step ahead of everything and from what I've read on this board the experiences and input of others can be absolutely invaluable. I'm not really asking any direct questions here, mostly posed some hypotheticals... But ANY and ALL input is not only welcome but incredibly appreciated. I know there are several people here who have survived quite well with brain mets and that gives me hope.

Sorry for the lengthy post, guess it's a lot to get out there all at once. I handle all of this for my mom to relieve the burden on her. She trusts me implicitly and has told me her limits. I'm doing my best. I hope it's enough. She's my best friend and I'm quite honestly terrified by the erratic behavior of this sudden whirlwind that's been thrust upon us. 

So, hello to everyone, and thank you for reading :)

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 5/1/2017 - 4:02pm
Replies by: Anonymous, UBContributor, Janner, casagrayson

I was diagnosed with stage 1a melanoma on my upper right back 5 months ago. It was shallow, .30mm and I had an WLE with no further treatment.

A couple of days ago, I discovered a hard, immovable lump on the back of my neck. it is just about an inch and a half  or so to the right of the very middle of the back of the neck and is perhaps 0.5 to 1 inch above my hairline.

the size is small, and it feels somewhat smaller than a pea. to give you a better idea, if i am sitting with my neck up, and if i pass my hand over the region, i feel nothing. even if i move my neck in all directions, and just pass my fingers over the region, nothing can be felt. but if i tilt my neck to the bottom and press hard, it can be felt. if i tilt to the bottom and to the left, it can definitely be felt even more.

it's not causing any kind of discomfort so far. but if it is pressed hard on and off for a 10-15 seconds, there is a level of pain sensation, though nothing excruciating. it does, however, seem to be embedded deep within.

I am scared as I have been told if melanoma spreads, the first place it can go is the lymph nodes in neck or armpit. I am otherwise healthy and fit and have not recently been ill or had any infections. . Have made an appointment to see the doctor but wondered if anyone here has any experience with something like this

Thank you so much

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 2
Last reply 4/30/2017 - 3:54am
Replies by: sgreenberg, Janner


My dad was diagnosed in July 2016 - in U.K. with fast growing nodular melanoma on forearm. He had WLE and Sentinel node biopsy which was negative. Also clear CT scans. He was given no breslow thickness/clarks level/miotic rate or even staging. I worked out for myself it was serious. The nodule was so large that he had 8x8cm WLE. Sent home "all clear".

Right enough 9 months later large lump under arm. Confirmed recurrent melanoma in the 2 biopsied nodes. By the time he got to surgery all nodes matted together and stuck to sweat glands and artery which was accidentally nicked in surgery and caused huge haematoma. Again CT scan clear. Again no staging.

I am pulling my hair out with worry knowing this will prob come back again quickly. But dad offered no options for treatment. He has never spoken to oncologist only a plastic surgeon. Is that normal?

Thanks for any replies.


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Anonymous's picture
Replies 4
Last reply 5/1/2017 - 9:18am

  Does anyone have any suggestions for someone that is on Opdivo/Yervoy and their mouth is so dry it is difficult to eat.  Water does not seem to help and he is using a rinse for dry mouth, but its difficult to use it as often as he feels the need.

 Thank you!

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 1
Last reply 4/28/2017 - 4:23pm
Replies by: jennunicorn

So I've had this mole for the longest. There hasn't been any pain, tenderness, bleeding, or scabbing (the common symptoms of a melanoma). I've known it's been there for the longest and maybe even since I was little. I just want some input of whether it's likely to be one. I haven't really noticed any changes since I haven't actually put any attention to it till now. 

I got it removed Wednesday and getting a biopsy for it. The dermatologist wasn't concerned. He said it's triangular shaped and would have same halfs if cut in half. Also, he said its mostly unison in color with small patches of dark brown. 


whats your input?

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ECHO's picture
Replies 5
Last reply 5/8/2017 - 10:18am
Replies by: ECHO, jyc, Cindyco

hi everyone,
my mother suffers from mucosal melanoma now and we couldn't find an effective drug. because of this disease, her right face swells for over five months. we've tried PD-1,and PD-1& yervoy combo, but they didn't work. She did a genetic test. It’s a ctDNA test using NGS. The result shows that there’re 4 genes mutated out of 66
MAP2K1 c.199G>A(p.D67N)
GNA11  c.547C>T  (p.R183C)
NRAS   c.182A>G  (p.Q61R)
KIT    c.1961T>C  (p.V654A)
As recommended, she took cotellic&PDL-1, but sadly, it didn’t work either. I felt that we were running out of our way to cure the disease. So can anyone give some suggestion? I really appreciate!!

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Anonymous's picture
Replies 9
Last reply 4/29/2017 - 3:31am
Replies by: Aloha14, Christinad, Anonymous, jennunicorn, SABKLYN

Hi All,


My dad was just recently diagnost with melanoma . He is going to see an oncologist this friday, but I was reading on the comments and suggestions that its a good idea to be seen by a melanoma specialist. Does anyone know of one in the Sacramento area?

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