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Viewers Share Their Melanoma Stories

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Recently, our host Dave Aizer shared his story about being diagnosed with melanoma. Here are some very touching viewer stories:

Richard —

My life partner of 45 years (now my spouse since December 2014) was diagnosed with stage 3 malignant melanoma 2 1/2 years ago. He had a dark mole on the left side of his shaved head which we finally had checked out. I can’t tell you how bad the guilt trip was that I suffered through for not having him check it out sooner. He never noticed it; I did, but hadn’t thought too much about it until one day something clicked. He has some sizable dark moles on his back, so that’s why I hadn’t thought too much of this one on his head. I thought it was just another one of those. I was terribly wrong. Bruce underwent a major surgery to remove the melanoma. In addition, a second procedure was scheduled to check his lymph nodes. In the guardian lymph nodes, one had two cancer cells, the other had one. Ten more lymph nodes were checked and happily they were all clean. Things looked okay and the surgeon declared Bruce “cancer fee.” We were elated! I asked his oncologist if he needed follow-up radiation or chemotherapy, and was told it wasn’t necessary. That surprised me, but of course I accepted what the oncologist said. Then, not too long after that, I noticed a lump behind his left ear, not far from where the original mole had been. It was biopsied and yes, the melanoma had come back. “Cancer free,” eh? Bruce needed another major surgery to get it out. And guess what. The oncologist now ordered intensive radiation therapy for Bruce on the left side of his head and all over that side of his neck. He had to go every single weekday for almost six weeks. When the radiation treatments were done, he looked like a victim from Hiroshima or Nagasaki. It was absolutely horrible. He also had terrible distortions in his sense of taste because of where the radiation had to be given and it was a major undertaking for me to get him to eat. It took the better part of a year for all the skin to heal in the radiated areas and for his sense of taste to return to normal. Bruce now has permanent blotches where the radiation had been given. He now goes for CT scans of the neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis every six months and a brain MRI once a year. Since his second melanoma surgery about two years ago, all his scans have come back negative. Now we do believe he’s cancer free, but that doesn’t mean he’s in the clear. We will always need to be vigilant and go through nerve-racking scans whenever the oncologist says he should have them, and we’ll be on pins and needles until we hear the report about those scans. It’s always a very difficult few days between getting the scans and getting the report. We live our lives normally except for those few days every half-year when the scans are scheduled. I am very grateful that it seems the melanoma has all been done away with at this point, and I am also grateful for the ongoing breakthroughs that are being made with immunotherapy to combat this dreaded disease. I just hope that Bruce never needs to avail himself of those therapies. I am mostly grateful, though, that I still have my Bruce with me. We’ve had 45 years together, and I want many more years with him. Thanks for reading our story.

Amanda —

I completely identified myself with David, something similar happened to me in 2003 and because the melanoma was discovered on time,I am cancer free to this date. My melanoma was under my left arm, and like David, had to go thru surgery and removal of some nodes as well. I go for an entire body check up once a year and also keep watch on my body at all times. I don’t expose myself to a lot of sun anymore and when out , I do it with care and lots of sunscreen! Glad David is doing fine!

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