Welcome to "A Lion's Den" CaringBridge website, in honor of DJ Scholtes. This site is used to keep family and friends updated in one place. Showing support and words of hope and encouragement are also highly appreciated. Below, is the backstory that lead to the beginning of this website. Thank you for visiting and please come back again!
On July 31st, 2018, DJ went to see a dermatologist for a mole removal. The procedure was simple enough, just one appointment to remove the mole, no previous appointments, labs or concerns. Two days later...DJ received a phone call with unexpected news, "melanoma". The dermatologist explained over the phone that the mole had grown 5mm down into DJ's skin, a depth that raised concerned with the doctors that it was an aggressive melanoma and already spreading. Surgery, he was told, was inevitable. Once the word "cancer" was spoken, he was immediately referred to oncology. The concern of spreading (metastasizing), he realized, wasn't a joke, and the heaviness of reality set-in. By the end of the phone call, DJ already had appointments set-up for consults, surgery, nuclear medicine, oncology, and follow-up scans year out.
And so it began.
On Thursday, August 9th, DJ checked into Gundersen Health System of La Crosse, Wisconsin at 6:30 am for surgery to excise the marginal region of skin and fat surrounding where the mole was removed one week prior. Standard procedure for melanoma is to remove 2 cm margins around the site of a mole, relative to the depth and width of the growth. DJ needed a 3 inch diameter circle of skin removed, including tissue layers down to the muscle. To close the wound, the surgeons made a 9-inch incision lengthwise, through the wound to close and suture the skin. The skin had to be stretched to cover the site; it limited his movement, thus mobility was restricted. Furthermore, DJ had a sentinel lymph node resection. This meant that the leading lymph node needed to be removed to test for cancerous cells, it was located near his groin. At 1:15 pm, surgery began. The surgery team removed not one, but two sentinel lymph nodes and closed two incisions on DJ's right leg. He was able to go home at 6:30 pm that day. Over the weekend, he rested while his wife was able to care for him and keep him comfortable. The next week, biopsy results revealed that no cancerous cells were present in the skin that was taken surrounding the original site. However, pathology results showed both sentinel lymph nodes tested positive for melanoma. The cancer was indeed spreading.
On Tuesday, August 14th, DJ was seen for follow-up with the oncology and surgery providers. He was able to move his leg a little more by this time, so they said it was time to move forward and schedule the PET and MRI scans to see how advanced the cancer was and to choose the course of treatment. The oncologists and "melanoma guru" discussed treatment options with DJ on August 20th, what could be expected and how to prepare while the results were pending from the PET and MRI.
This is an ongoing story and will be added to as the journey continues. DJ and Jomarie aspire to provide updates and connect with friends, co-workers, family and all that may be concerned or wondering about further news or progress. Thank you for reading and please consider showing support for DJ when you visit his CaringBridge website "A Lion's Den".