Monday, May 5, 2014

Melanoma Awareness Month

I wanted to share the story of my fraternity brother's wife.  Recently, I have seen a few Facebook posts detailing her battle against Melanoma, as well as pictures, etc. trying to raise awareness for the disease.  I thought I would reach out in order to get her story, and to see if I could use this platform to drive even more awareness since the month of May is Melanoma Awareness month.  So I present to you Jessica's story:

"I was diagnosed with stage IV Metastatic Melanoma at age 30 in October 2013, only 3 weeks after giving birth to our first child. My symptoms started out as severe back pain at 5 months pregnancy, that the doctors just assumed was pregnancy related. The pain got even worse after Max was born and landed me in the ER, where they discovered a 2 inch tumor on my spinal cord. A biopsy revealed that it was malignant Melanoma and even worse, a PET scan showed that it had metastasized and spread to other bones in my body.

My treatment team immediately put together an aggressive treatment plan. I was to have spinal cord surgery as soon as possible to remove the tumor, followed by radiation therapy to the surgery site. In addition, I was to start an immunotherapy drug that builds up your own immune system to attack the cancer. On top of all this, we learned that Melanoma is one of only two cancers that can spread to the baby while pregnant via the placenta. Although it is extremely rare, we decided to have Max scanned regularly to be extra safe. His pediatric oncologist recommended getting him scanned via CT every 3 months until he is one year old. I ended my regular treatment at the end of January and my most recent scans have shown significant improvement and that the cancer appears to be stable, at the very worst. We are so thankful and happy that the cancer is responding to the treatment! I have started rounds of maintenance treatment, where I received one more round of radiation and will receive the immunotherapy drug once every three months to keep my immune system beefed up to demolish the cancer. We have also decided to get Max [their son] checked for Melanoma, even though it is extremely rare. We wanted to be extra safe and are happy to report that so far, he is healthy as can be and growing like a weed! We are so happy that the treatment seems to be working and are so thankful for our amazing friends and family who have bonded together to help us out in this horrible time of need. We truly believe that our wonderful support network helped make this nightmare a little easier for us. They have come together to help out with things such as babysitting during my marathon of doctors appointments and treatment, provided dinner and entertainment when we were down, raised money for medical bills, and even helped me spread awareness about Melanoma, which is very important to me! Lastly, please, please, PRETTY PLEASE go get checked out by your dermatologist! It is so important to catch this deadly, aggressive cancer as early as possible. So many people are under the impression that Melanoma is "just skin cancer" and no big deal, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Please go get checked by your dermatologist, wear sunscreen, and stay out of tanning beds! It could save your life!"

So take her advice.  Go get checked out when you see something and don't put it off.  Read more about signs of melanoma here and to book an appointment with a dermatologist, visit ZocDoc to get in ASAP!


  1. Thank you, Ryan, for sharing my story! It is so important to get this message out there and to get your skin checked. It could save your life! Thank you again!

  2. Thank you, Nice Article,

    Have a great day

  3. God bless you and stay strong