20 Oct Shannon’s Story
Since being diagnosed with melanoma in 2005, I have had nine melanoma related surgeries, three systemic treatments, four separate radiation treatments, countless scans, and numerous blood transfusions and iron infusions.
My initial lesion was on my upper right arm, and considered lower risk as it was “only” .72mm deep. In 2010 the disease reached stage 3, appearing in a lymph node in my right armpit. Although the PET scan following the removal of my lymph nodes was clear, the disease progressed to stage 4 in 2011, when I was 6 months pregnant. It was in my brain, my left lung and my liver.
In June 2011, I underwent emergency brain surgery to remove the two large tumours to increase the chances of survival for our unborn daughter and I. The surgery went well for both of us, and both tumours were successfully removed. On August 5th, 2011 Madeline Delaine was delivered via C-Section; ten days later, I began 2 weeks of full-brain radiation. Before starting my radiation treatments, a CT discovered additional tumours, one in the lung and two in the liver, which were treated in the Fall with 4 infusions of the trial drug Ipilumimab.
In September 2012, I had surgery to remove one tumour in my lung, and one in my chest wall. In March 2013, I had surgery to remove a tumour on my left flank and in December of the same year, I had a tumour removed from my right breast. In April 2014, I had bowel surgery to remove 4ft of my small bowel and started up treatment with Pembrolizumab, through Health Canada’s Expanded Access Program. Shortly after my 14th infusion of Pembro at the beginning of 2015, I had another bowel surgery to remove a small amount of disease that was still in my small bowel. Fast forward to today; I just finished my 23rd infusion of Pembro and my latest scans showed things in my abdomen are stable!