We got the results of my latest scans this month and the report was as good as could be hoped for. My scans continue to show No Active Disease. My oncologist also said that he has a high level of confidence that I will not have a recurrence of melanoma. He put the odds at 80-90% that the melanoma would not recur. He also said that the longer I go without having a recurrence the higher those percentages go up. They may never reach 100%, but at some point it becomes much more likely that I will die of something else before I ever get melanoma again.
Needless to say we were both ecstatic. We received a similar report after my last scan (without the percentages), but this time it seems more real. I feel like this time I finally have the cancer behind. It’s still in my rear-view mirror, and will always be there, but eventually it will fade to a small speck in the distance. Today, the term “melanoma survivor” doesn’t feel like just a state of mind, a phrase that people with cancer use to not feel like victims but rather, to feel like active participants in their own healing. Today, I feel like it expresses my physical reality.
Tonight, Lynn and I attended Yale’s melanoma support group meeting. There were three of us melanoma survivors, all with no active disease or no evidence of disease, and some have had clean scans for many, many years. I thought to myself that if someone who wasn’t familiar with melanoma had walked into that room and seen us there, they would have concluded that “gee, this melanoma stuff is no big deal. Everybody gets cured!” That’s the danger of small sample sizes. There are hundreds of melanoma patients who go to Yale for treatment or follow-up, yet you can usually count the support group attendees on one hand. The people who do attend regularly are people who are doing well. I wonder where all the other people are. I would think that the people who aren’t doing so well would benefit the most from a support group. I realize that the people who are really battling may be too sick to travel, but there must hundreds of people in between, people who are struggling or scared, people who aren’t getting great scans, but who are for the most part healthy enough to carry on their daily activities. Where are they? I don’t know.
We started this blog for a couple of reasons. One was to keep a journal of our struggle with this disease, the ups and downs, and how it affected us. The other reason was that we wanted to share this in the hope that other people, especially couples, would see this blog and would read things that maybe they could relate to. I hope that we have reached at least one or two people. It’s hard to tell because, while the site stats tell us how many visitors we get each day, it doesn’t tell us who they are and what they might have felt about what they read here. Also, although the site offers visitors a place to leave comments, so far no one has done so. Anyway, I hope that what we have been shared here has been useful or interesting to someone. If all continues to go well, this blog will get less interesting in the future because, let’s face it, good health is as boring as an unremarkable scan.
I’m not sure what I will write about in the future. Melanoma is never going to go away completely. I hope that my immune systems remains strong and ever-vigilant at keeping those melanoma cells in check. I also hope that I continue to be free of symptoms and side effects. Of course, that won’t leave me much to write about on the subject of my melanoma. Would anyone besides us be interested in updates from a boringly healthy melanoma survivor and his wingman?
I’m open to suggestions.