In 2015, I made an appointment with an ENT for lingering sinus problems and nosebleeds.
After numerous tests and scans, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Sinonasal Mucosal Melanoma. I had no idea what this was and did the very worst thing I could do – I looked it up on the internet. The outdated information was scary and vague. I began to search for any doctor that knew what this was and found a Melanoma Specialist 3 hours away who was familiar with MM. I scheduled an appointment where the diagnosis was confirmed and a treatment plan was put in place. I had surgery to remove all of the tumor followed by radiation treatment. I was pronounced cancer free at the end of treatment and told to continue regular checkups. One year later, my scans showed metastasis to my brain, my lungs and my right kidney. I began a treatment of immunotherapy and received Gamma Knife radiation for the brain metastasis. The first immunotherapy had no effect so another combination immunotherapy was started which caused serious side effects that required hospitalization. After a period of time to recover and become stabilized, I wasn’t sure what else could be done for treatment. At my appointment with my oncologist in January 2018, we talked about what else I could do. He presented me with the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial for TIL therapy. I eagerly agreed and I began the process of evaluation to see if I qualified. The response was positive and after completing all of the required tests and having the tumor harvested for the therapy, I was admitted to the hospital for the trial. I received my TIL treatment on April 2, 2018. Six weeks later, scans showed significant shrinkage. After six months, I was cancer free! I continue to get routine scans and continue to be healthy and cancer free.