Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The perfect combination for skin cancer.
First melanoma came just 2 years later!
Unless you have had a melanoma, this story may have slipped right by you in the paper.
I on the other hand, did see it this morning, while going through the week’s papers to go out for recycling.
This new Cancer drug made by Merck, was just approved by the FDA and may save countless lives, mine included.
If you have seen my Bio picture, you may have noticed that I am fair skinned with blond hair and blue eyes.
A desirable combination some may say, just not in my case.
After my second melanoma was diagnosed many years ago, I was sent to an LA Cancer Specialist who was part of the Kaiser Foundation which I was covered by in California.
His words still ring in my ears to this day, ” if you had stayed in Indiana with that skin and coloring, you might have had a chance, but you came here and baked in the California sun and this is what happens. “
What followed were 8 more melanomas and a total of 22 moles removed.
Melanomas run in families and are genetically linked, which puts my children at great risk now.
Lucky me, I have what is called Dysplastic nevus syndrome, which means that every mole on my body, and there are many, wants to become a melanoma when it grows up.
I know when they are bad, I have spent a lifetime looking at mine and those of many others.
For the next 15 years, I was the star patient of the Chief of Dermatology in the Panorama City Kaiser Hospital.
He loved my case, it was such a challenge just to see what would happen next.
He was an excellent Doctor, we became good friends and I adored him.
But back to this new drug I have just learned about today, Keytruda.
If it does what it promises, many melanoma patients whose cancer spreads, may just have a fighting chance.
If melanoma is a new word to you, it is a deadly skin cancer and once it has spread to your lymph nodes, you are a goner.
The lymph system immediately sends all those nice little melanoma cells throughout your body.
BAM, game over.
If you or a loved one has melanomas, which by the way has now become the deadliest form of skin cancer, for the love of God, tell them to ask their doctors about this new drug.
I will include many links below about skin cancers, melanomas especially and how to check your moles, this is critical if you are to survive.
Also included will be the who, what, why and where of this new drug and what it will cost, as well as other helpful information.
I hesitated to write this today because it is so very personal, but what if one of you could be helped or even saved because of something you learned from this story?
That is why it is here.
I also want to address one more issue related to my melanomas and this will be especially personal and may shock you, or bother you to read.
I apologize in advance for doing it, but as said in the paragraph before, some one might benefit from this information.
Several weeks ago, I made an appointment with a local doctor to go in for a check on my mole situation.
I know when they are bad, I have spent a lifetime looking at mine and those of many others.
And right now, I have a bad one and it needs to come off.
Anyway, I made an appointment and was set to see this doctor three days ago.
As always because procrastination is my middle name, I waited until the day before my appointment to fill out the new patient forms that had been mailed to me.
As I was wandering around in them, I started thinking, what if all of this is going to cost a small fortune?
I no longer had the wonderful “free coverage” of Kaiser Permanente in LA.
I am now responsible for any and all costs incurred in my health care.
So, I called the number on an ad that had recently come from AARP, with an invitation to enroll in their Supplemental Plan.
I had avoided this for several reasons in the past.
Here is what you do not know about this retired Treatment Nurse.
I despise, in no particular order, doctors, pills and medicine in general, when it comes to me.
I refuse to take pills for just about anything or everything.
I have not made a Doctor’s appointment since I left LA in 1999.
With my Cancer diagnosis, that is truly stupid.
But we simply did not have the money and I did not want to go hunting for a replacement for the wonderful man who took care of me in California.
I trusted no one!
So, I did nothing!
I hid my head in the sand and pretended that I would be fine.
Anyway, back to the supplemental plan from those nice people at AARP.
It all sounded good, I was ready to jump in and sign up.
I had a new Doctor lined up, an appointment made and a plan chosen to cover what Medicare did not.
Life was good.
So, then I went back to the forms and began to fill them out.
Got to the page of what they accepted for payment or Insurance.
I had already asked about Medicare and they said that was accepted.
What I did not ask about was a supplemental.
Well you guessed it, there it was on the page of plans they took, they did not accept AARP.
Just to be completely sure, I called their office and asked.
She was adamant.
They did not take AARP as a supplement.
You must remember that for 30 years of my life I had Kaiser, they was never a charge for a single thing.
To say that I had grown complacent, is an understatement.
When I left LA and Kaiser in 1999, I was uncovered for the first time in my adult life.
What happened next was stupid, I admit it.
I called the office back and cancelled my appointment, saying that if they did not take AARP, I would have to cancel, not knowing how much the charges could amount to.
Dermatology care and treatment can be VERY expensive.
My appointment was for the next day, I said and there was no way I could go through that list of supplemental plans they do accept and pick one by then, I had to cancel.
I will not comment on her cold response, but it was not very kind.
Now, I have no Doctor, no appointment and must start all over looking for new ones of each~
I admit I was hot-headed about it, yes.
And procrastinating contributed greatly as well, but one thing sticks in my craw right now.
I have worked all of my life, since I was 9 with a paper route, paying into my SS.
I have never used it before now, so this first attempt being a most negative experience, is not a very good beginning.
Oh well, I will spend next week trying to sort it all out and get back on track.
I sincerely apologize for this ridiculous overindulgence of writing and beg for your forgiveness in having to read it.
BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!
Hopefully, I will not need this new drug, Kytruda, and yes this is personal.
Places to learn more:
FDA approves Keytruda for advanced melanoma
FDA approves first-of-its-kind melanoma drug
Genetic mutation linked to melanoma progression
‘A single mole caused cancer to spread through my body – now I only have months to live’
Merck Wins Approval to Sell the First in a new Type of Cancer Drug
The costs are here!
FDA OKs Merck drug, 1st in new cancer drug class
UCLA Researcher Provides Insight Into the Impact of Pembrolizumab in Melanoma –
FDA approves new cancer-fighting drug
High melanoma risk found in airline crews exposed to high-altitude radiation
Reblogged this on sachemspeaks.
Thank you so much for helping to spread the word.
Wow, what a nightmare, Donna! The Keytruda sounds like it could well be a life-line for you … I do hope! Best wishes with getting everything sorted out. Peggy 🙂
Thank you, Peggy.
I am hoping this may help someone else one day.
Next week it will all get fixed.
It was a knee jerk reaction.
Hot head, duh!
oh, indeed yes – the more people who hear about this treatment … who knows when we might just know someone who needs it
Unfortunately, Melanoma is now a Global Cancer because people love to be tan!!!!
Spread the word~
Dear Donna, I am so very sorry to hear about your melanoma and doctor and insurance troubles 😦 I wish there was something I could say that would make it all better for you – perhaps I can’t except that I wish you the very best and hope that it all gets sorted out soon. And you don’t have to apologise for saying how you fee – that’s what we are all here for – to support each other! Take care and best wishes…hugs xx
Thank you so much Anjali.
No one knows how much I did not wan to write this. But this new drug may help many people and I simply could not write about it, without saying why I know so much about this particular kind of cancer.
I hope that someone will be helped by this news.
Your intent and motivation are nobel Donna! Hugs xx
Oh,I am so sorry about your melanoma. I so hope it will all get sorted. Oour countries are in such a mess. You’re as always,such an inspiration xx
Thank you so much Adam. It will be ok.
I’m praying and thinking of you xx
Please keep those who are in much more need than me for your very precious prayers.
I am OK.
You’re very very important to me and many others too. To be honest I would pray for you anyway xx
OK , OK, OK~
I’ll take it!
But, I am truly not worthy.
I need all of you much more than you will ever know.
These Blogs I write are how I cope!
The more i’ve got to know you, the more amazed i’ve been at how selfless you are. All the love you outpour on us all. Never once speaking of what you was going through. Now its my turn to be here for you. You’re a remarkable person and i feel sad that the medical system in the states is so expensive. I believe strongly in self healing and positive thinking (not that I’m always good at that myself) and know we’ll find a way. I’m always here, any time you need someone. And I know sacham (i always call your husband that) who is a lovely chap will always take good care of you. Much love, adam
You are so correct, the health care system costs in America are out of control.
The primary reason is because the BIG Health Insurance companies drive the costs up with over priced charges in every sector and no one cares as long as they are covered.
It is a disaster.
I completely agree with natural medicine.
Sadly, skin cancer at least as far as I know, does not respond to any natural cures.
As for “Dear,” he has done his very best to take really good care of me, since we met in 1999.
When you want/need to think of someone truly worthy of your prayers, who are TRUE Heroes, think of the Doctors and Nurses in Africa right now caring for Ebola patients.
You are very very important to me and to so many others too. To be honest I would pray for you anyway xx
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Thanks so much for spreading awareness! This cancer needs it so badly! I am 30 years old and stage 4 with Mets in my brain, hip bone, and lungs. This drug was available to me through a clinical trial in June, and long story short, my tumors are currently inactive! Awesome news for us with melanoma 🙂 Thanks again for spreading much needed awareness!
Your strength is amazing and awesome.
Thank you so very much for sharing your story here.
It may help others deal with their struggles.