In 2009, I had a mole removed from my back with a wide excision surgery. Though the mole was cancerous, it had been removed completely, so I stopped thinking about it.
I was out hiking in May 2015, when I began to feel surprisingly short of breath. I went in for an x-ray, and the doctor told me to go to the hospital immediately; my right lung had almost collapsed. The melanoma had moved into the pleura lining of my lung, causing fluid leakage. I spent ten days in the hospital, with a chest catheter draining my lung fluids regularly.
I then had a bronchial tube biopsy, the results of which came back as stage 4 metastatic melanoma. CT scans founds more tumours on my kidney, spine, and neck. I travelled to Kelowna to begin receiving the checkpoint inhibitor combination of Tafinlar and Mekinist. By September, I had begun to feel better; however, my body became immune to the drugs I was receiving, and my cancer came back.
I began seeing a Naturopath, who suggested I look into the immunotherapy combination of Nivolumab and Ipilimumab. When my cancer returned, I was admitted to the hospital in Kamloops, waiting for my Oncologist to decide between the immunotherapy Keytruda, or finding a clinical trial for Nivolumab and Ipilimumab. He found a trial in Edmonton, where I went, despite being very ill. During the first round of treatment, I was constantly dehydrated, despite draining three litres of fluid a day from my body. After the second round, I began to feel better. I spent six and a half weeks in the Cross Cancer Institute, taking pain relief medications and having fluid drained regularly from my lungs. After my fourth cycle of treatment, I was discharged from the hospital. While I still have nine treatments to go of Nivolumab, which I receive every second week, I am on track for a full immune response.