Where does someone start to write this story? There are probably many places, but I will start with when my wife, Roxanne, and I were in Jasper for our anniversary on Thanksgiving weekend in 2020. I started to feel a pain in my right side that I had never felt before, and it was registering as far more than a 1 or 2 on the pain scale. I also was experiencing some occasional breathing issues while on the mountain trails. Neither of these are situations that had ever occurred before.
After being home for about a week, the pain in my side was still there, so my doctor ordered some tests. The alarm bells started going off. More tests were done and soon an appointment was made with my dermatologist and an oncologist.
I remember the meeting all too well – 2 doctors, 2 residents and Roxanne and me. I have not mentioned yet, but Roxanne is the most amazing wife in the world and an absolute blessing. With her by my side, this is when they gave us the news. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma and treatment of immunotherapy would start the very next week.
I had 2 treatments before Christmas, and everything was going well. Despite this, during the Christmas holidays, another “bump in the road” occurred. After spending many hours in the emergency ward, it was determined there was also a lesion in my brain. The next week I had gamma knife treatment on that lesion in my brain.
In late January of 2021, I started to have some vision issues. I always had perfect vision, so I had no idea what was happening when these vision problems started. After a few more appointments, it was determined that I was impacted by one of the very rare side effects of my immunotherapy. My vision was going, and it was going fast. My healthcare team stopped administering the immunotherapy for a few months to see what might happen with my vision. By spring of 2021, I was considered legally blind as my vision continued to unfortunately get worse.
So, let’s try to keep this long story short. It is now January of 2023. I have had 3 eye surgeries, my vision is slowly coming back, and I am now able to read with reading glasses which is a great improvement as I was not able to read for over a year. I am not able to drive yet, but I know one day I will. I continued receiving immunotherapy and overall, everything is going great, despite a few more “bumps” in the road. I have had two more gamma knife treatments to my brain. Despite this I feel great and the other lesions in my body are also cooperating.. We are going into our 23rd month of treatment and I know that I am going to win this battle.
Every day I am so thankful for all the amazing healthcare workers I have met. Each and every one of them has been absolutely amazing. I am thankful for the trust I have, my faith, and for all the people I have been able to impact while on this journey. I am also thankful to be on this journey with Roxanne, who is an absolute blessing.
I could write volumes about the last 23 months, and that is probably why I started a blog, but that is enough for today.
I am participating in the 7 Summits Snowshoe Challenge for Skin Cancer presented by Neutrogena to raise funds to support the melanoma and skin cancer community and raise awareness for the importance of winter sun safety to prevent melanoma and skin cancer. This will be the first time I snowshoe in many years and I am looking forward to it!
Thanks for reading my story, and if you are also on a Melanoma journey, please know that my thoughts are with you.