Stage 3b - My Story

I just wanted to post my story on here since there isn't really much in the melanoma category. I get it, it's not as common of a cancer, but in case others with melanoma come on here and want to read a recent story, it always helps me to feel less alone when I read about others like me out there.

I am 29, was diagnosed in October 2015 with melanoma. May 2015 I had shown a new ugly growth to my primary doctor who looked at it and said it was a seborrhic keratosis. I trusted her and went on with life. Five months later I go back to her about a different skin issue. By this time the growth had grown much larger and darker and uglier. I wanted it removed just for vanity purposes. She had a dermatologist look at it and he immediately had it biopsied. Two weeks later I got the call that it was melanoma. Couple weeks after that I go in for surgery to get a wide local excision of the primary site and also for the sentinel lymph node biopsy. Four lymph nodes were removed and three were positive for melanoma. Got a second opinion at a local university research hospital and decided to be treated there full time since they have a melanoma center and my oncologist only deals with melanoma. Since there were no clinical trials available for stage 3 at the time, my options were watch and wait or do the newly FDA approved immunotherapy drug, Yervoy (ipilimumab). I decide to go for Yervoy, despite all the scary side effects. I've done the 4 main doses with little side effects, mostly fatigue and itchy skin. Will be doing the maintenance doses the rest of this year, next one is May 19. 

Recent PET/CT scans were scary because some lymph nodes lit up, had another biopsy of an enlarged lymph node, thankfully that came back clear. Next scans are in June, always get anxiety about them because I worry about progressing to stage 4. Hopefully the Yervoy will stop me from getting there, but I know the percentages are low for Yervoy success, so there's always that possibility nagging at me. It's hard being the only person I know with a cancer diagnosis. There is no family history of it. No friends have dealt with anything like this. I feel very alone sometimes. 

I hope this helps others who come on here looking for another melanoma youngster to relate to. I'll check back if anyone has questions or want to chat.