Welcome to Riley Pearl's CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting & please leave a message - they help Riley!
On January 11, 2019, Riley's doctor found a small tumor in her chest following a check up over Christmas break. The source was a birthmark she has had her entire life. It’s called superficial spreading melanoma. A month later, on Valentine’s Day, Riley underwent surgery to remove the small mass as well as 6 lymph nodes to biopsy as a precaution.
Unfortunately following her first surgery, we received more bad news the biopsy was positive and an official diagnosis of middle-late Stage 3 Advanced Melanoma Cancer that has spread into her lymphatic system. CT and MRI confirmed it has not spread to any other major organs.
On March 15, surgeons took 18 more lymph nodes. The biopsy was clear on the 18 lymph nodes removed- so the main cancerous cells are gone!This is the first good news we have received during this process.
On March 28, Riley had her drains removed and returned to her junior year at Grand Valley State University (GVSU). As many of you know, Riley is president of her sorority, Sigma Kappa and works in the President’s office.
In the meantime, Riley participated in Relay for Life at GVU which raised more than $100,000 for the The American Cancer society. Riley was able to award her friend A.j. Warner the “Relayer of the Year” title.
On May 8, Dr. Fletcher, the gene team and oncologists at U Michigan Health will start Riley on immunotherapy so she can finish her semester at GVSU.
Immunotherapy means 2 medications will be taken 3x a day – it’s unknown if she’ll experience any side effects:For now, no chemo, radiation - the usual suspects when people hear "cancer treatment".
She’ll continue with doctor appointments 1x a month for a year and scans every few months for the next 5 years. The goal is to stop the cancer in its tracks before it returns.
Riley says: “It’s so easy to put on a face, but the reality of this situation comes in waves knowing that it is a long road ahead still. I have struggled with returning back to class and learning how much stress/movement my body can handle now (I feel 80) even when I do not physically look sick, it’s been a hard pill to swallow. I am able to be strong by allowing others to hold me up when I feel weak— but asking for help is hard, and will continue to be against my nature. Sometimes the hardest lessons are the most important and I am so blessed by every person helping me fight back.”