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Alyssa is a vibrant, compassionate, kind and fun loving young woman who was diagnosed with stage 2.6 melanoma in 2010 at the age of 23. She had noticed a mole on her left leg that had changed color and shape. It was surgically removed by a cancer center in Detroit along with two lymph nodes from her groin that were sent in for testing, showing up as cancer free. In October of 2014, Alyssa noticed a lump under her skin, several inches from where the original melanoma had been. Her dermatologist removed part of the tumor for testing, and within 24 hours Alyssa was notified that it was in fact malignant melanoma, now stage 3C. She switched to the University of Michigan Health Center for treatment in November of 2014 who removed the rest of her tumor and surrounding area, along with the rest of her groin lymph nodes. Pathology at the U of M did a staining of the lab work that had been done by the original cancer center in 2010, proving that the lymph nodes tested did have microscopic cancer cells in them, resulting for her melanoma to be metastatic. With little options available, Alyssa began an Interferon treatment in January of 2015, but had to stop after two weeks due to extreme side effects. In July of 2015 she noticed spots around her incisions that were of a different color. She had another surgery to remove the microscopic tumors and then after 7 weeks more spots came back again, quickly. Alyssa's surgery in October 2015 was more involved than previous surgeries, ended up being a 6 hour surgery as they removed about 50 tumors followed by an isolated limb perfusion procedure. Within a week or so after the surgery melanoma spots had appeared once again.
Alyssa tried immunotherapy treatments in February of 2016, but had to stop due to her liver enzyme levels getting too high. With everything Alyssa had tried, her oncologist at U of M sat down with her and explained that they have done everything they could there, but felt that she would be a good candidate for a clinical trial at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD. This leads us to where we are today.
Alyssa has been with the National Cancer Institute since January 2017 undergoing treatment for the TIL clinical trial. She officially started the treatment on September 21, 2017.
Alyssa has good days and not so good days, she has the blessings and comfort of being a child of God and is surrounded by family and friends that love her, lift her up with words of encouragement, positive thoughts and prayers, remembering that cancer is the "little c" and Christ is the "big C."