I have had a setback with my cancer. It is back, or rather it never left. I have a tumor on the back left side of my neck as well as a few enlarged lymph nodes on the left side of my neck. The cancer was not detected during my first surgery, the Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy and has been present and grown this whole time. Also, the high dose immunotherapy treatments (Interferon) have proved to be ineffective.
We are in the process of gathering information and second and third opinions from doctors and melanoma centers around the country (Houston, Los Angeles, Pittsburg, Denver). I will be traveling to see doctors and institutions very soon in order to make the best decision for the next step.
What is certain is that I will have surgery to remove the tumor. I will also have surgery to remove all lymph nodes on the left side of my neck in a procedure identical to the last surgery I had on the right side, called a left radical neck dissection. Some of you may have been aware that I was scheduled for this surgery tomorrow (Thursday) here in Cincinnati, but have decided to postpone and weigh all the options and make the best decision possible. However, surgery is certain.
What is not certain at this time is exactly when this surgery will take place. There are differing theories and treatments for melanoma; however the research is constantly evolving and changing. Oncologists’ opinions differ when it comes to treatments. The treatment options at this point are limited to clinical trials. The next step, if we chose to go forward with treatment would be a Bio/Chemotherapy regiment, requiring hospitalization and lasting 5 months or so.
This is all very confusing and complicated. We are taking things one step at a time and as I mentioned, trying to make the best decision possible.
As always, I am missing Colorado and the mountains, there is always next ski season!