Saturday, October 28, 2006

Inspiration and Hope

Karen Velasquez is a member of MPIP and gives all us melanoma warriors hope. She was diagnosed stage 4 ten years ago today! Beating the statistics to the ground. While she isn't NED, somehow her tumours have been kept in check by treatments and her body and have not been fatal. Karen has been an outspoken melanoma activist, warning people of the dangers of the sun and to be aware of any changes on their skin, even appearing this year on the Dr. Phil show to warn people about the dangers of tanning beds. She is a true inspiration.

Here is some of her history in her own words taken from her MPIP Patnet:

"I was dx in 1992 with the primary mole on my back, clarks level 3. I
had WLE and was told everything was OK.
In Oct of 1996, I was dx stage IV with mets to my jawbone, lymph
system (32 tumors) and spots on my liver. I was treated at The
National Cancer institute with high dose IL2 with GP100 Vaccine as
well as the Flowpox vaccine. I did nine rounds of IL2/vaccine combo
and all the disease went away with the exception of the jawbone, I had
my jaw removed and reconstructed. My NED time lasted 2 years. Since
that time I have not had any other chemical treatment, but have had 4
additional surgeries for lymph tumors, and had radiation to a bone
marrow met to my left femur. This disease seems to have become more of
a chronic disease rather than a fatal one for me. The IL2/vaccine
combo seems to have slowed things down. I am scanned every three
months for follow up. I believe that this is the key to maintaining
long term survival. Without that constant monitoring, these tumors
would likely have become a bigger issue."

Another inspirational person everyone in cyberspace should meet is Heather. Heather has not posted on her blog in 2 weeks and I, as well as everyone at MPIP are very concerned. I'm not a prayer (prayerer? huh?) but I do hope she is ok. I'm so worried. Heather, if you are reading this, we are all thinking of you!!


I have surgery on Thursday to remove the tumour my surgeon missed. Just as well he missed it because I just found 2 more curious lumps on my upper arm. Damn. Hopefully he'll take those out too. It just comes out of nowhere. I can't believe how fast my tumours grow. Whatever.

On a brighter note, my pain seems to be under pretty good control with the Methadone and Percocets and my mood is good too besides the frustration and anger towards the medical community right now.

And, on an even brighter note, my beautiful fur-babies Misty (brown) and Mojo (B&W) make me smile and warm my heart every time they are near (except when they scratch the couch and whine for food before the alarm goes off in the morning!).


At 11:48 AM, Blogger Alex said...

I have been reading your blog since May. I just wanted to say that my thoughts are with you for your next surgery! I really hope you don't have to experience any more major fuck ups!

I hate to imagine what would have happened to you if you weren't so on top of your treatment. Most people unfortunatly aren't and accept everything their dr. tells them!

At 7:36 PM, Blogger Carver said...

Hey Sarah,

I'll be sending good thoughts out for you Thursday and I hope the doc will take the new things you found while he's at it. I am so sorry you've had such a tough road and I so hope things will be changing for the better soon. I got a smile out of your fur babies. What style they both have as does their human mom.

Take Care, Carver

At 11:43 PM, Blogger Snobby Bobby said...

Hey there Sar-ah,

Bobby here in Dallas, the other lesser white meat half of Miss Melanoma/Lori. Good Post and I like the kittie pics!!

Have fun and good luck at the surgery(ies), stupid white boy honky sarcasm there.

What's the temp there these days? We need an average of 60-70 degrees when we visit. of course that's just best case scenario, we're not picky. Just a couple of pillows, a fan and blanket, preferrably emroidered by an old grandmother type.

Peace from Tejas,

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

Hey Bobby!

Not sure what the temp here is in Farenheit (sp???) but I can tell you that lately it has been a nipply 5-10 degrees celcius during the days. You do the conversion! Nowhere near winter, but definitely sweater and jacket temperature! Perfect visiting weather. If you wait another 2 months there will be full-on snow which is FUN if you are dressed properly.
Thanks for popping in!

At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with your surgery Sarah. I'm Katrina on mpip. I read your blog and I can't believe how difficult things have been for you. My husband is in the hospital now from his second surgery this month. Adrenal, spleen, kidney removed, then a bowel obstruction.

Your ability to keep your head up in all this has been an inspiration to me. Thank you for writing. I check in often even though I don't know you.

Our three kitties and dog help keep our sense of humor too. Too bad you can't bring them to the hospital to visit.

At 7:49 PM, Anonymous Jenger said...

Hey Sarah. . .

Going to be thinking about you tomorrow. . .Looking forward to hearing a 'I'm kicking Cancer's Ass' update when you're back in blog action. :)

At 2:32 PM, Blogger Carver said...

Hi Sarah,

I hope your surgery went well on Thursday. I noticed you posted a response to someone yesterday on the MPIP so I took that as a positive sign. I hope that it was. I didn't realize until I saw your response on the MPIP that you had been upstaged to IV. I knew there was a question about that at one point but that's the first I knew that it was definite. I'm keeping good thoughts going for you and as you said in this post, there are some inspirational long terms Stage IV MM survivors. As ever, Carver

At 8:57 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

hi carver,

i kinda "upstaged myself". i haven't officially asked because i can't bear to hear it, but it's pretty obvious, right?

20 tumours removed in two years. not in organs but creeping far out of the axilla basin onto the chest wall and shoulder.

The treatments they talk about are stage 4 treatments...

I feel a fraud calling myself stage 3C when even if it may not be 4, it's certainly closer to 4 than to 3C. Not sure where I fit...


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