Shauna’s personal story
In June 2012 I lost my young, 58-year-old mother to melanoma. She was diagnosed in March 2011 with stage IIIc melanoma. Over the course of six months she had four surgeries on her right thigh to remove the melanoma which left her with a huge whole in her leg that she had to pack and wrap for over a year. My mother's doctor never found the point of origin for her melanoma. I personally believe it started on her nose, but after a fall injury to her right thigh a tumor started growing. Unfortunately, it was misdiagnosed as a hematoma due to the circumstances of her falling. It wasn't until two months later when a biopsy was actually done.
From the day of diagnoses until the day of my mothers death it was a whirlwind of doctor appointments. She traveled to Sloan Kettering in NYC yet was able to do treatments near her home in upstate New York. She was started on Yervoy in December 2011 and in a follow up appointment in March 2012 she found out that the cancer was now stage 4 as it had spread to her liver and lungs. She bypassed her last dose of Yervoy for an aggressive concoction of three chemo's that did nothing for her except spread the cancer faster. By the time she passed away in June 2012, she had a tumor the size of half a volleyball on her thigh growing faster by the minute, as well as numerous sub-tumors popping up everywhere.
I have pictures of the tumors in her last few months that I would like to use to educate people on the severeness of melanoma, though they are pretty graphic in nature I believe they would be quite jaw dropping and shock people.
My mother did tan a handful of times in a tanning bed, but the majority of her tanning was out in the boat which she loved so much. She was a bit darker in complexion so she believed that she didn't need much sunscreen once she got the base tan for the summer. She would use only 4 to 8 SPF.
For my mother, who was also my best friend and childcare provider to my then 3-year-old boy, nothing went her way once she was diagnosed. Watching someone want to live so much, after they are told they won't is heartbreaking. I remember her doctor coming in to tell her that she wasn't going to make it very long and my mother saying that she wanted two weeks...she made it nine days.
Melanoma has taken the best mother and grandmother in the world from us and it knows no boundaries. I am dedicated to help in the awareness of this horrible cancer for as long as I shall live because no one deserves to go through what my mother went through...no one!
Rest in Peace Mom, you are truly my hero for your braveness and strength during such a horrific illness.