My name is Shannon.
When I was 31 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. The deadliest skin cancer. The next few weeks were a whirlwind of surgeries, the news that I had one positive lymph node, a radical neck dissection and parotidectomy, fear of emergency c-section during my 6 hour surgery, recovery from surgery (still pregnant!), then the unmedicated birth of our daughter, Emmie, 11 days past her due date.
When Emmie was 3 weeks old, I began 5 weeks of high-dose daily interferon infusions. We had live-in help from both of our mothers and my husband’s grandmother, Emmi, whom we named our daughter for. Just days after Grandma Emmi left us to return home, she suddenly passed away. Yet another shadow clouded our horizon.
However, we took solace in the knowledge that she was able to spend a week with the little one named for her, and Grandma Emmi’s love still lives on in our home.
Now, we are trying to adjust back to our “new normal.” Raising our beautiful little daughter, dealing with the thousand little tasks of daily life and keeping an eye out to make sure that the cancer stays at bay. We are also still trying to process this summer that brought the brightest sunshine and the deepest shadows to our lives.
In July of 2014, my worst fear came to pass and I was “upgraded” from stage 3 to stage 4 melanoma when a single metastasis was discovered in my right lung in August, I had surgery to remove the met and we deeply hoped that would be the end of it (although the odds were not in my favor). In November, we discovered that the cancer had in fact spread and as now in various other organs (lungs, liver, kidneys).
I have been on several different treatment regimens, including BRAF inhibitors and Yervoy. In February of 2015, I took a serious turn for the worse with unexplained internal bleeding (likely from the rumors, but no defined source) and was given only hours to live. Miraculously, I survived, says admitted to hospice, and was able to walk out the front door about a week later. I am now on Keytruda and have seen promising results from it so far. We take each day as it comes, and try not to take anything for granted!
To read our story, as it was originally posted on Caring Bridge, please begin here:Not-Awesome News Scheduling of first surgery First surgical consultation Really long update to catch everyone up to speed Peter’s take on surgery My take on surgery Biopsy results Stitches out and seeing the baby And more…