Melanoma: The Sequel


Nearly two years ago I had a Stage IIB melanoma removed from the rear right side of my neck. A few weeks I noticed a tiny dark spot near my right side-burn. I had it removed and tested and the melanoma was back.

A PET scan and two MRIs later it is in both lungs (one tumor each), my second left lateral rib, and a 10 mm nodule on the left side of my brain in the language centers.

For genetics geeks, it is a C-KIT mutation, which is apparently kind of rare. BRAF would have been expected — and lots easier to treat.

I was scheduled for brain surgery on Tuesday of this last week (26th), but it was delayed until genetic typing could be finished. It was determine a risky procedure (a real thread the needle approach path with no margin for error) and the thought was it might not be worth the risk if it was a BRAF. A couple of newer drugs can tried on a BRAF with decent odds of effectiveness.

Now we may have to revisit whether getting the one in the brain into a sample jar is a desirable option.

My oncologist is trying to arrange a consult with MD Anderson. He wants to explore any possibility of C-KIT melanoma in the brain having higher drug resistance due to their location. It is actually reassuring to me that he keeps up his homework.

Two drugs targeting C-KIT are available, though the side affects are worse than BRAF treatments and the effectiveness is reportedly lower. Other options include radiation, though it will be high-dose since melanomas have noteworthy radiation tolerances. As for prognosis, it is obviously going to be a rough few months whatever happens.

On the plus side, other than some fatigue I have no symptoms. A steroid I am taking to help with some edema around the brain nodule sometimes helps with the fatigue — and other times it drops me into a worse bout.

My record so far was seeing four different doctors in the same day and two pharmacy stops. Quite impressive!

I am trying to get as much work done as possible, though admit that it is between doctor visits and tests and fatigue spells.

Work is FUN! Any day I can swipe my badge or log in from the home office is a GOOD DAY. I am also getting to see some amazingly cool tech long the way.

I will update from time to time.

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