Tikal, Guatemala

Bonnie Sedlmayr-Emerson

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As most of you are aware, I was first diagnosed with melanoma in January, 2005.  After a scalp resection in February and removal of lymph nodes where there were metastatic cells in May, a year-long course of interferon began at the end of that month.  Other than the difficult  physical effects of the treatment, I have been well,  and frequent check-ups and scans had detected no new "hotspots".  The report from November 2009's PET scan was different:  after almost five years in remission,  there were now two spots in my right lung.  Because of the location of the nodules, a biopsy was not possible, so I had a VATS (video-assisted thoracic surgery)procedure on December 10th.  The surgery went quite well, but the nodule that was removed was determined to be melanoma.

Since melanoma is a cancer that spreads systemically it has to be treated that way.    We consulted with two oncologists in Tucson and one in Los Angeles and chose to stay in Tucson, with Dr. Lee Cranmer at the UMC Cancer Center overseeing treatment.  From January through April I had biochemotheraphy: a powerful combination of three chemo drugs and two biological agents, IL2 and Interferon.   For each of four cycles  I was in the hospital for 5-6 days every 28 days.  After four cycles we went to an every other month regimen. 

After months of grueling IL2 treatment, a November, 2010, CT scan showed two new tumors in the right lung.  After evaluating options with a number of oncologists, we decided to enter a phase 3 trial of Ipilimumab (Ipi), a very promising melanoma drug.  The drug is given by infusion once every 21 days for four months in the high dose stage. 

Since 2011 I have had stereotactic radiosurgery on the lungs and a quarterly maintenance dose of Ipi (now called Yervoy) to keep me on the "straight and narrow". 

I am pursuing an aggressive therapy and remain committed to keep living well. Randy is my faithful and loving researcher and cancierge.  Joelle, Jordan & Miriam and London and Jessica, Noam & Lila are the shining stars of our lives and fill us with love and hope.  The thoughts and prayers of our extended family and friends creates a community of strength and loving support that lifts me up and nourishes my spirit.   

HOPE, always hope!


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