Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Story Abbreviated

I know some of you are new readers and don't know a lot of my Cancer Journey, so I thought I would give you a quick version of how all of this happened. This not only helps you understand where I am coming from or what I have been through, but it helps me too. Sometimes I forget the beginning of the journey. Yes, I have been through A LOT, but I have come a long way and I have put up one hell of a fight. I know, that even though I am cancer free right now, that my journey is far from over. I will continue to fight with everything I have. I have no intentions of ever giving up, no matter how tired I get. I will do whatever I have to do to be with my babies.


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The summer of 2007, my husband noticed a spot on the back of my left calf. I didn't think to much about it. A year later my mom encouraged me to see a Dermatologist. On July 8th, 2008 the day my daughter turned 6 months old, was the day that the Dr told me I had cancer. At first I was speechless, then the tears started flowing. I called my mom, husband, and mother in law to tell them the news. Those were very hard phone calls to make. The Dermatologist scheduled an appointment with the surgeon and oncologist and removed the melanoma from my calf. The test results came back as Stage IV Melanoma.
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I met with the surgeon the following week. He was very positive that it hadn't spread. We scheduled a surgery to have some lymph nodes in my left groin removed and more skin excised from the primary spot on my calf. He removed 7 lymph nodes from my left groin. 4 came back positive, 3 were negative.
**
I then met with my oncologist. The standard treatment for Melanoma is Interferon. I did a month long round of Interferon, 5 days a week for 4 weeks. After that I did shots 3 times a week. In January 2009 a lump showed up on my back. 3 different Dr's felt that it was a cyst. In March two more spots showed up on my chest. These were under the skin. I showed my Dermatologist immediately. He scheduled an appointment for me after hours the following day to have all three spots removed. All 3 spots came back as Melanoma. At this point we realized that the Interferon was not working. My Oncologist was very honest and told me that they did not have what I needed.
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My paperwork was faxed to MD Anderson on a Thursday, and my first appointment was scheduled for that Monday. After my oncologist at MDA received my CT scans and PET scans he discovered that I had 4 more tumors inside my body. We discussed different chemotherapy options and decided on the one that has been proven to be the most successful. There is about a 50% success rate for the biochemo that I did. There is an 87% chance that the cancer will eventually return. The average remission time is 9 months.
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Approximately one week later I was started on biochemotherapy. The drugs included Cisplatin, Aldesleukin (IL-2), Dacarbazine, and Vinblastine. I was hospitalized for a week during chemotherapy. I returned home for two weeks, then started the chemo all over again. I did this a total of six times.
**
After two rounds of the biochemotherapy, another PET scan was done. One of the tumors was completely gone, one of the tumors he decided was not a tumor, but calcification from a shot I had as a toddler, the other two tumors had shrunk greatly, but were still there. PET scans were completed after every two rounds of biochemotherapy. The tumors continued to shrink, but still remained. After my 4th round of chemo, my oncologist decided that he wanted me to complete 2 more rounds of chemo, so instead of doing 6 rounds of chemo I was going to complete 8 rounds. I was pretty upset about this. Chemo was awful and I was ready to be done.
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At my appointment with my oncologist before my 6th round of chemo, I started crying. After seeing my tears he decided to not have me do the 7th and 8th rounds and instead we could just have surgery.
**
I returned to MD Anderson 1 1/2 months later for surgery. Unfortunately, the ultrasound could only find 1 tumor. The surgery was able to remove all of that tumor. The other tumor was to small to find, therefore it could not be removed.

I returned two months later for repeat PET scans and the tumor that remained had grown for 4mm to 6mm. The Dr sent me to ultrasound where they found the tumor immediately. Another surgery was scheduled. The remaining tumor was removed and I am currently cancer free!

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