MelanomaMama's Journey with Skin Cancer - Melanoma

Survivor: Skin Cancer - Melanoma

Patient Info: Living with cancer as a chronic illness (undergoing adjuvant therapy), Diagnosed: over 26 years ago, Female, Age: 70, Stage IV

  1. 1
    about 4 years ago
    MelanomaMama's Avatar

    I'm still sucking air!


    I'm a Stage IV melanoma patient, entangled in a tango with death. I usually don't use the word "survivor," because I think of that term for patients who are declared "NED." (No evidence of disease.) My inoperable chest tumor, and my cancer's tendency to crop up at inconvenient times and places precludes that diagnosis. The latest was a golf-ball sized brain tumor that revealed itself last February when I was on my way to see the opera, Madame Butterfly. So I went and enjoyed the opera anyway, and then checked myself into the emergency room. Brain surgery and subsequent gamma knife radiation were successful. Anyway, I prefer to call myself a "thriver," not a "survivor." I am so proud that I was able to write a book (published April, 2012 and getting great reviews) called Melanoma Mama: On Life, Death, and Tent Camping in which I relate the joys of a solo, cross-country tent camping trip which I hadn't expected to live long enough to enjoy. See It's available as a paperback and on Kindle and other e-readers. Melanoma was first diagnosed in 1990 when a mole was removed from my back, followed by a wide excision showing the cancer seemed to have been contained. I lived for many years with no sign of recurrence. Then, starting in 2008, I have undergone blood transfusions, interleukin-2 (immunotherapy), radiation, three surgeries (bowel, buttocks, and brain), gamma knife radiation to the brain, and most recently, ipilimumab (a newly FDA approved immunotherapy.) I'm still here, dancing, hiking, tent camping, and playing my guitar and howling (on and off key.) I'm also busy writing a sequel, Avoiding the Tuscan Sun: Melanoma Mama in Italy, about my dream-come-true trip to study Italian in Tuscany while living in an Italian home. I just launched my Facebook page (Constance Emerson Crooker: Melanoma Mama), and I journal often on the Caring Bridge website under the name melanomamama. My message is simple. There is plenty of joy to be grabbed, even in the valley of the shadow of death. I'm still breathing in and out. Must mean I'm still alive. So far, so good!