It seems these days that I have trouble remembering what I may have eaten for lunch yesterday. I write myself tons of reminders for things (thank you iPhone Reminders!)… but there are certain dates that I just can’t forget! Etched in my memory as days that forever changed my life. Most folks, I suppose, would have dates likes these for major events in life – graduating college, getting married, have a child… for me, they all revolve around Melanoma. That awful ‘M’ word that will forever be part of my life.
On Thursday I’ll head in to Sloan for my 16th dose of Merck’s anti-PD1! 12/5 reminds me that it’s been 1 year since I needed a trip to urgent care (was having increased numbness and tingling in my arm/hands). In the last year I’ve had 15 doses of PD1, 7 CT scans, 3 MRI’s, and around 20 + doctors’ visits. I consider myself very lucky to have gotten on this trial, although it did appear that Ipi was starting to do its thing prior to me starting! But perhaps it was the 1-2 punch the immune system needed to take back the fight against Melanoma! We hopefully are getting closer every day to treating this more like a chronic illness than a deadly disease!
It hasn't been the easiest year. I've expired the worst anxiety ever (been much better)! Including daily panic attacks when I was feeling my worst last year in December (that’s when I started acupuncture, meditation, and working out again). But somewhere between mid Dec 12 and Jan 13 things started to take a turn! The daily pain in my stomach started to go away. Perhaps it was the pain from the tumors dying (I’d like to think so)? I was able to start eating again (I know my family was worried about me on that one… luckily I had plenty of extra pounds to spare!).
Looking forward tomorrow with catching up with some friends, even if it's at Sloan...
10/6/10 – the day I resigned from my job in North Carolina and had an ‘angry’ mole removed from my back
10/14/10 – Call from my dermatologist and the news…
10/15/10 – first visit with a surgical oncologist
10/19/10 – my first ever surgery! Which was a panic/anxiety filled day! Starting with a whole host of issues on ‘where does Erin really need to check in!?’
11/8/10 – all clear from CT/Pet scan and brain MRI… on to next surgery of lymph node removals
1/11/11 – meeting with Dr D at MSKCC for the first time for clinical trial
11/13/11 – CT scan to get in
11/19/11 – call with Dr D while sitting in baggage claim at Denver airport and finding out a dozen small spots showed up in my lungs on the scan
3/1/11 – VAT’s procedure with Dr R which confirms melanoma in lungs
… then a year + without any real notable issues… yay for being ‘boring’
5/22/12 – not feeling great and knew something was wrong. Find out hemoglobin has dropped to 5.6 and I need a blood transfusion! WHAT?!? My first ambulance ride!!
5/29/12 – start my first chemo drug – bring on Zelboraf
9/10/12 – scans show growth again… Z has stopped working (Dublin also go hit by a car this day…)
9/26/12 – my first Dose of Ipi (Yervoy)
10/4/12 – Small bowel resection – wake up to find out tumor was much bigger than anticipated (maybe softball size? And trying to reach out for other things… all else looks clear!)
12/5/12 – trip to Urgent care… precaution ‘given my history’. I think it’s just pulled muscle/drug reaction. They immediately bring in a neurologist and CT scan of the brain to make sure no tumor! CT scan was clear.
12/8/12 – brain MRI shows all clear!
12/18/12 – CT Scan moved up to be done with shoulder MRI’s due to heart palpitations (want to make sure I didn’t end up with a blood clot in the lungs). Results show lymph nodes around small intestine the largest yet!
1/8/13 – Meeting with Dr S to get in Merck’s anti-pd1 trial. I had to wait 4+ hours just to meet with him. Small price to pay for potential life saving drug!
1/16/13 – CT guided biopsy and CT scan. Shows shrinkage! Ipi kicking in? I knew it was getting better because I was finally able to eat again and didn’t have daily abdominal pain.
1/21/13 – First dose of Merck’s anti-pd1! Randomized to low dose. But I’ll take it!
9/30/13 – scans continue to show shrinkage!
12/27/13 – hope continued good news on scans!!!