Stage IV Melanoma...It's NOT Just Skin Cancer!

by Holly Flores

Today's Guest Blog Post is from "HFlores", she is a Stage IV Malignant Melanoma patient/survivor currently in treatment. While she is still fighting a serious fight she is still trying to live her life as normal as possible. 

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In the spring of 2014, my hairdresser noticed a mole on my scalp that appeared to be changing color. After a biopsy in August, it was confirmed I had Malignant Melanoma. On September 11th, I was wheeled in for a 4-hour surgery (wide excision of the scalp) and removal of sentinel lymph nodes from my head and neck. Being pretty uneducated about Melanoma I thought this would be the end of my journey with cancer.

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Life went back to normal and after taking several weeks off work to recover. In no time, I was back to working full-time as an Administrator of a Learning Center where I had dedicated nearly 20 years. I was a newly divorced mother of a young son with a very busy schedule. I remarried, gained a step-daughter and soon thereafter, had a visit from my familiar friend (cancer) in 2017.

Holly Flores

This time, it wouldn't be as easy to bounce back to my busy life and work! I underwent an array of scans and a CT Biopsy before I was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Malignant Melanoma. I immediately started taking the targeted treatment combo (Taflinar and Mekinist). I was lucky enough to have very few side effects! My tumors shrunk over 40% after just one month and throughout the remainder of the year, continued to shrink.

In January of 2018, I was devastated by the results of my MRI. I had a small tumor! Two months later, my follow up MRI showed my tumor grew and another was visible. The findings were now favorable for brain metastasis. I’m currently still on TaF/Mek, as my tumors are small, but not gone. I’m stage IV BRAF positive. The MRI in March stated “favorable for metastasis” but my Oncologist wanted to do one more MRI (this Month) before deciding if we’d do radiation due to the small size. I believe I will remain on my current medications unless my original tumors begin to grow.

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Cancer leaves you with so many unknowns. But it also leaves you with a chance to change. I've had the chance to try new things, slow down, appreciate sleeping in and love deeper! I am still learning that I need to CRY and it's OK to be angry. People have come in and out of my life who are also fighting cancer. Old friendships have been renewed and I've learned to lean on those who are willing to hold me up when I feel like falling down.

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What's next for me? My Oncologist says we will closely watch my new tumors due to their small size. Later this month I will follow up with another MRI before learning where the next path will lead me. There will be big things happening in my future. That's why I'm was excited to hear about WhatNext! I'm looking forward to hearing the stories and suggestions of others in the cancer community.

Do you have an inspiring cancer experience story? Email us to find out how we can help you share your story and inspire thousands.

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