In September 2007, I noticed a lump in my neck. I felt fine, but went to my general practitioner right away. She took no chances and I had a CT scan done within five days. She called me and said, "You need a neck biopsy ASAP." Again, I was feeling fine, but the stress started.
They did a neck biopsy on Sept. 25, and five days later I was told I had malignant metastatic melanoma! Then, he also added that no one lives more than six to 12 months with this disease because it is terminal. So, I went to an oncologist who set me up for a PET scan. On my 50th birthday, he called me with the devastating news. I had 14 tumors: nine on my lungs, a very large one on my esophagus and four more in my chest cavity, advanced stage IV.
Luckily, he referred me to a wonderful melanoma specialist 15 minutes from my house. Dr. Brendan Curti came in on his day off for our first consult. He was honest but upbeat. There were options! I chose the most aggressive at the time: HD IL-2. I did six weeks and 47 doses, was clear for six months had a minor recurrence. I had 50 lymph nodes removed and 25 rounds of radiation. It has been 5 years with no evidence of disease (NED). I never used a tanning bed, but you should protect your skin always. I never used sunscreen and thought my Italian skin was not susceptible to cancer. WRONG!