Approximately seven years ago, while heading out for a cruise out of Galveston, I stubbed my big toe on a heavy piece of luggage. A really bad bruise appeared. The toe hurt with flippers and shoes, but I never gave it a thought.
The bruise remained for five years - always changing from purple to blue then more red, but never painful.
A couple of years later, I went to a dermatologist for a full body dermatology exam
and he thought it was an infection from a pedicure.
Fast forward to April 29, 2014, I had an appointment with a podiatrist who gave me an antibiotic which didn’t do much. On my follow up, approximately a month or so later, he took a fairly large clipping out of my nail, scraped it and sent it off to biopsy. It came back as an infection and required a specific antibiotic to which I was to take for 3 months. My first follow up showed little improvement. I continued with the remainder of meds and my last follow up was scheduled for November 17th.
On September 29 2014, I had an appointment with a urologist, because I had a urinalysis that showed microscopic traces of blood. I had pelvic/kidney/abdominal CT scan
and only thing it picked up was two enlarged lymph nodes in my left groin. Two days later I went to the ER for an ultrasound which also confirmed a couple of enlarged lymph nodes.
The week I went in for my last follow up with podiatrist I mentioned swollen groin lymph nodes and asked if they could be related. He said no and suggested that I keep an eye on my other toe nails. By the time I got home, he had called me to schedule an appointment to have my toenail removed and biopsied. He said it probably not related and it would be rare if it was but he would feel better if I removed it. That same week I went in to see a surgeon about the swollen lymph nodes and she scheduled surgery the next week.
The week of thanksgiving 2014, the podiatrist removed nail and the surgeon removed two lymph nodes. A week later pathology reports both confirmed melanoma
. January 13, 2015, MD Anderson
did a partial amputation of my left big toe and removed 22 lymph nodes in my left groin.
My clinical oncologist recommended a treatment of Interferon. I opted to change my diet to a raw vegan, no sugar, dairy, carbs, alcohol, and caffeine diet and load up on specific supplements and CT scans every 4 months.
Almost three years NED until a mass was palpable in my thigh and the biopsy came back melanoma. I started Keytruda October 2017. Surgery was scheduled at MD Anderson to remove “Melvin”, as I named my tumor.
In December 2017, I flew back to MD Anderson where Dr Wargo removed two tumors in my thigh. The smaller one shrunk just a little. The larger remained the same. Both had the same characteristics of my primary cancer. I am waiting on the results to see if the keytruda had killed any melanoma cells and the healthy cells are reserved in a till for any further treatments that may be needed.
I fight for my husband, my brother and my friends who support me. There are still so many things I need to do and see. If one positive thing came out of this, it’s that I look at life so differently and don’t sweat the small stuff one bit anymore.
Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash