Note: On 12/24 it will be 11 years since I completed my final cancer treatment. This week I am writing reflectively a bit about my experience.
(continued from yesterday)
The early tests and conversations with the medical team were not encouraging. I had five tumors all in my lymph nodes with three under my arm and two near my neck. It is bad to have tumors in two places and so far from the original mole as this meant the cancer had metastasized. Quickly the doctors set out a plan for me that first included surgery to be followed chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery again if possible and finally radiation.
My cancer was declared Stage IV. This is not good news for any cancer and especially with Melanoma. The best five year survival rate I could find on the Internet for a stage IV patient was 19% with most sites showing an even smaller % chance to live. For hours I would just stare at my computer screen and read over and over statements like this one:
“Modest progress has been made in the treatment of metastatic melanoma over the past decade. With the advent of high dose interleukin-2 (IL-2), it may be possible for a small number of people to be cured of their disease. Despite this, the average survival in people treated for metastatic disease may be as short as nine months”
Darn you Internet and your vast amounts of information.
There was not only talk of treatments but there was talk of pain management, DNRs, quality of life and planning for the worst case scenario. The Dr. to his credit did not want to give me a worse case date but when forced by me said it could be months.
More to the story with my next post….