So I have metastatic melanoma. Which basically means it has spread. I’m not going to give everyone the run down on what melanoma is, if you got here, you can find google, so this is just my experience. Lets go back…
About 3 years ago I had a spot on my back, which living in Houston, I assumed was a bug bite gone wrong. My husband looked at it and said it was a funky spot. So we scheduled physicals with our GP, just to have them done, and she ordered me across the street that day to have this funky spot removed. A couple days later the doctor’s office is blowing up my phone with messages and calling me at work. When I finally called them back they told me I had been referred to a surgeon and have an appointment with him scheduled for early that next week. We went into the surgeon’s office and he said it was melanoma and needed to be removed, today. I was pretty upset b/c this meant I couldn’t compete in the tough mudder I had been training for. I asked if we could reschedule it to the next week b/c my back would be loaded up with stitches and I wouldn’t be able to participate. He said “yeah, no.” So that totally sucked, but he called back a few days later and said he got clean margins, we caught it early so no worries. Yeah, you see where this is going, right?
Cut to current time, June 2014 I notice a lump under my arm. I figure its just a blocked lymph node or some weird body thing. Upon the urging of my husband, I called about 300 doctor’s trying to get an appointment to be seen. Most were out on vacation, not accepting new clients, or told me to just wait and see if it resolves on it’s own after a couple of weeks. I had the lump about a week when I started making calls, and I was calling new doctor’s b/c I really didn’t like my GP. Anyways… I found a PA willing to see me, she sent me for an ultrasound, (came back weird) which lead to a fine needle biopsy (fine needle my ass), which lead to our first appointment at MD Anderson. So after meeting with the treatment team, and having about 3000 various scans and blood work and every other test under the f’ing sun I was scheduled for surgery to have the funky lymph node removed. Surgery was on July 7, 2014. At that time per the scans, the plan was to remove all the lymph nodes from under my arm and then follow up with radiation. ( I also got to wear a super fashionable drain for 3 weeks, it was so cool. No, no it wasn’t.)
About a week after my surgery I developed a cough. This is normal for people who have been laying around not doing anything but sleeping for a week, so doctor’s not concerned. I was told to take Robitussin and Musinex. Well I did that for a week and no change. So they added Tesselon Pearles. Nothing. So when I went to meet with the medical oncologist she ordered a chest x-ray, which lead to an MRI and CT scan, which lead to a lung biopsy, which lead to stage 4. So really stage 4 is better than stage 3 b/c there are more approved medications. So when I was in stage three my options were radiation followed by 12 weeks of biochemotherapy. Which was 12 weeks off work I didn’t have. See even though I’ve been at my job for a while I didn’t qualify for FMLA, b/c when we were no longer grant funded and the county agreed to make us a permanent fixture in the court it changed our status. So we are considered “new” employees, and since I “haven’t been employed with them for a year” I don’t qualify for FMLA.
Now that I’m stage 4 though, I qualify for this medication that will reduce the tumors that are peppering my lungs within a week. So I’m taking a combination of pills (5 total daily) and once they reach their therapeutic limit I will begin immuno therapy. Not sure when that will happen, but hopefully a while from now. The medications have pretty much stopped my cough, which is great, but they also cost $400 a month. Not really looking forward to that, and it’s even more frustrating that the medicaid cost is free. I’d really appreciate it if they didn’t put that on the package. It seriously says that on the package “Medicaid cost $0.00.” It’s basically taunting me with, hey dummy look at your price, that’s right, hope you didn’t run the air conditioning this month.
Okay I’m sure I’ll think of other things to put in here or comment if I’ve left something out, but this is the basic jist. I’ll add more as more comes up.