It’s been almost five months since I’ve posted here, mostly because there’s been blissfully nothing to report. John has been healthy and sailed through his 3 month checkup in March with flying, cancer-free colors. We’ve been living our lives, remodeling our house, and making plans for a fun, busy summer.
Until the lump started growing.
At first he thought it was scar tissue because it’s in the exact site from which they removed the original lymph node that lead to the malignant Melanoma diagnosis last October. Since he had 33 more nodes surgically removed from that same area in December, it seemed plausible that it certainly could be scar tissue.
Except it wasn’t.
After a visit to his regular doctor a few weeks ago, he was sent straight to the hospital for a CT scan that day, and they called that night and told him they were referring him back to his Melanoma oncologist at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. We had to wait a week for that appointment. They did a needle biopsy and said they were alarmed at the rate of growth of the lump. After nearly another week, we got the call we’d been dreading.
The biopsy came back positive for Melanoma, indicating that the cancer is back and spreading. There are several other spots on the CT scan he had last week in his abdominal and renal area that they now assume are cancer. They have changed his diagnosis from stage III to stage IV Melanoma. This is a very serious diagnosis and according to his doctor, not curable with traditional medicine. There is a clinical trial they’re trying to get him into and a drug called Ipilimumab (which was still experimental and in trial back in October when he was diagnosed) is now FDA approved and available to him. Even with these drugs, his chances of survival only increase about 20%.
We are looking into alternative forms of treatment as well. The learning curve is steep and we’ll be navigating a lot over the next several weeks and months. John is the most positive person I know and looking at this as a challenge to be overcome, not a death sentence. He is my rock and I’m doing my best to stay positive and not to let the fear take over. It’s an hourly, sometimes minute-by-minute struggle and I’m using all of the tools and skill that I teach others, but I’m managing.
As we reluctantly climb back onto this roller coaster and strap ourselves in, I’ll begin updating this blog again for those who are praying for us and interested in John’s progress. We want to thank you in advance for your positive thoughts and prayers. We do believe that they have power and we don’t take a single one for granted. As I’ve said in the past, above all, we’d like to encourage you to appreciate all that you have, hug those whom you love often, and never, ever forget how precious and fragile life is.
Yours can change in a heartbeat. Our certainly did.