Bad news, but it’s not holding us back just yet. The melanoma has metastasized to Kevin’s lungs. We were told the largest nodule was 2.8 cm. No word on the others. The pulmonologist only said they were in both lungs, and that there were “several”.
He also has two subcutaneous nodes (undiagnosed, but obvious to see and feel). One on near his left bicep (about 1/4″) and another near his sternum (about 1/8″). Both are deep and moveable. The larger one appears darker.
While he still needs an official diagnosis, since the metastasis is in an organ, plus 2 more sites, from what we’ve read this places him at 4th stage melanoma.
The lesion on his scalp must have been secondary – a metastatic lesion – but we didn’t realize it at first.
When Kevin and I first married he complained about a strange, painless hole in his foot. It looked like a very deep blister which wouldn’t heal. Since he has athlete’s foot and wears work boots all day, it was common for him to have blisters. This odd hole would come and go twice, lasting a couple of months. Not knowing about melanoma, I asked him to go see about it, but he was busy, and it eventually went away.
After all of this – surgeries, scares, reading and viewing endless pictures – it occurred to me yesterday while doing laundry and washing Kevin’s socks – that this was his first melanoma lesion. We simply didn’t realize it. This potentially could have changed everything, since the scalp lesion would have been a metastatic one, placing Kevin immediately in clinical trials.
Strangely enough, I came across this acupressure diagram. Oddly enough (or perhaps not) where the lungs appear on the feet below is where the hole was on Kevin’s foot.
The other melanoma symptom we missed were night sweats. I was always cold at night, Kevin was always feverishly hot, which I liked. I stay up late and read, and noticed that Kevin – early in his sleep cycle, would become feverish, then sweat, then get very cool.
Apparently this was a problem before we met, since Kevin insisted on using only high thread count sheets. He said better sheets helped him to wick the night sweats he had. Now that I think about it, the night sweats stopped when his foot lesion would go away. They returned with the lesion on his head. Why would melanoma cause fevers only at night when you’re at rest? Does repairing melanoma have to do with sleep somehow? Why did we think this was normal?
We don’t want to focus on the past, but we do want to note the things which were easy to dismiss in case it helps others.
Original PET scans taken a year ago after his surgery indicated a tiny amount of metabolic activity in his lungs, but oncologists chalked this up to the possible inaccuracy of the scan. Kevin was otherwise healthy – he healed from the lesion. He was back to his normal weight and had more energy.
A word about PET scans
PET scans are not a perfect science, which is why they are often done after a biopsy, not before. Medicine, you must remember, is done blind. You simply can’t see what’s going on in there unless you’re in there – so these imaging tools help.
PET scans, short for positron emission tomography, use a radioactive component combined with glucose. As previous posts note, cancer LOVES sugar. The hungry cancer cells gobble up the sucrose and the radioactive material in the process. This is ultimately displayed in a 3D image where docs can see in varying colors and brightness according to metabolic activity. Through this they can determine which cells are eating the fastest, and likely be cancer. The ‘hot spots’ help show where cancer is, or can be.
The problem is, many other areas gobble up sugar too – like your brain, for example. So PET is more of a general guide after diagnosis or biopsy. It is not a definitive map.
We have a lot of things to do quickly, in terms of planning, preparation, and decision making. We have to be nimble, smart and prepared. We need to meet the right people, at the right time who have the right solutions. I think we’re on to some very good ideas and possibilities, as well as a new adventure. I still believe we can jump this hurdle.