Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Healthy Skin Tour comes to Colorado June 2009

Free skin cancer screenings this week in Colorado (see link for detail)

Boulder 6/3/09
Aurora 6/4/09
Lakewood 6/6/09
Littleton 6/7/09

Friday, May 22, 2009

Melanoma photostream on flickr

photo credit

You'll never know what you'll find when you search for "melanoma" on flickr. Check out the photostream for yourself. The photos range anywhere from innocuous to very graphic (medical). I'm assuming they are all SFW.

Flickriver: Searching for photos matching 'melanoma'

Friday, May 15, 2009

Grey's Anatomy

I had no idea that Grey's Anatomy had a melanoma storyline this season. I don't watch hospital dramas generally but I've been seeing spots for the show with Katherine Heigl's character in a hospital bed apparently near death with a lot of sad music in the background so I just figured she was just preparing to commit 100% to her film career next season.

Turns out her character was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma much like a real person, Naomi Williams. You can read about both the show and how it parallels Naomi Williams' life here.

From ABC News:
Woman Battles Melanoma In Real-Life 'Grey's Anatomy' Story

Naomi Williams, 29, was watching a recent episode of the ABC hospital drama Grey's Anatomy, on which Katherine Heigl's character, Izzy Stevens, is battling advanced skin cancer but had to stop because her own experience with skin cancer was still too fresh to endure seeing it unfold on screen.

"The timing is very surreal," said Williams, who lives in Jacksonville, Fla. "It was really intense... too difficult to watch for me."

Like Heigl's character, Williams was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma -- the most serious type of skin cancer -- about one month ago. The cancer was discovered after she broke a bone in her back bending down to put a plug in a socket. Subsequent tests revealed that she had cancer in her bones and her lungs.

"That was the red flag that started it all," Williams said of her bone fracture. "The question was, why are you 29 and healthy and having a bone fracture? The diagnosis was malignant melanoma but they can't find anything on my skin to show that it's melanoma."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's May and you know what that is

May is melanoma awareness month. I can't think of a better link to include here than Nicole Shields' blog from last May marking the occasion and taking the time to update everyone on the condition of her husband, Sean, pictured here.

I can understand why she probably hasn't posted anything this May. You don't have to read too many of these types of blogs to know how they usually end. I can't imagine how hard it must be for surviving spouses to pick up the pieces and carry on with memorials and birthdays celebrated in cemeteries.

Sean's story is another painful reminder that melanoma can come back after treatment, stronger than ever (see Susan Torres). He was diagnosed with Stage III melanoma in 2004 and after surgery was declared melanoma free. Then in 2007 after complaining of chest pains, he was diagnosed again for melanoma, but this time Stage IV.

He died August 2nd of 2008.


The Skin Cancer Foundation has a searchable calendar for free skin cancer screenings going on around the country. It's called the "Road to Healthy Skin Tour" and it started in April and goes into September. Click here to find a location in your area.

New Treatment for Ocular Melanoma

Ok been a few years. The interface has definitely improved since I last posted anything here that's for sure. I hope to improve my posting frequency in 2009. Won't be too hard to beat 2008. I've already just done that.

There's a possible new treatment for ocular melanoma (melanoma in the eyes!) called percutaneous hepatic perfusion and if approved by the FDA could be available in 2010. Supposed to have minimal side effects.

The fast-growing cancer needed an aggressive treatment. Dr. Richard Alexander of the University of Maryland Medical Center chose to bombard Larry's liver with chemotherapy.

"Essentially just flood the liver with a dose of chemo that you could not possibly tolerate if you had to give it intravenously," he said.

The experimental treatment targets the liver with a dose of chemo that's 10 times stronger than usual. Doctors then filter the drug out of the blood.

"We sent it through a filtration system outside of the patient and give it back to the patient without chemotherapy in it, so this really avoids the unnecessary side effects and toxicity of the chemo distributed to the rest of the body," Alexander said.

A pilot study revealed significant regression of cancer in more than half of patients treated. Larry is hopeful after having three of the four required treatments.

"They told me 70% of my cancer was gone," he said. "I got a 17-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son and me and the man upstairs have talked about it and I'm going to see my children graduate from college."