My story starts in February 2013.  

After the joys of a laparoscopy and colonoscopy I was found to have a tumour in my small intestine. This was removed a month later and thanks to Tramadol I have no memory of the experience!

A short while later I was contacted by my GP and told that I’d been referred to Mount Vernon Hospital and more specifically Consultant Oncologist Paul Nathan.

I’m thankful every day since that first meeting that he is still my consultant. He explained to us that the tumour removed was in fact Stage 4 melanoma and yes I did think “Well at least it’s only skin cancer.”

I had 6 monthly CT scans and all was good until I had a call the day after one of them to ask me to come in the following day. No sleep that night for either of us! The next day Paul told me I had a brain tumour just above my left ear. The plan was to start immunotherapy namely ipilumimab (ipi). I also had a Cyberknife treatment.

I had a mesh mask made which is attached to the bed where numerous shots of radiation are concentrated on the affected area. Unfortunately my tumour was still increasing in size. Paul had mentioned that he was waiting for another immunotherapy treatment to be allowed. So we waited and thankfully pembrolizamab (pembro) arrived and I started treatment.

To begin with the tumour continued to increase in size and then after 6 months, finally, the shrinking began!

At the same time I had 3 abdominal mets which were also shrinking....Happy days!!! 😊 Mets did still appear, intestine, shoulder blades , neck, breasts but thankfully Pembro worked its magic on them all. One would arrive and Pembro would basically get rid of it! In 2018 I even had 18 months of being NED!!!

Side effects were few and far between until last August when out of the blue I started getting colitis. I was admitted to Mount Vernon October 2020 and was in for a month and my medical team didn't ever give up on me💜 Unfortunately because of colitis I had to stop immunotherapy and in April 2021 began targeted therapy.

My last scan results were exceptionally good which of course is a huge relief but currently the side effects are causing a great deal of pain, which I’m happy to say are being treated with physiotherapy. My first session is actually tomorrow (3rd November 2021).

Melanoma is the devil and will appear wherever it wishes but I know how lucky I am. As well as my oncologists I’ve had the best support from those close to me, especially my amazing husband.❣️ And lastly I must thank Melanoma UK for their constant and continued support…. Thank you all 💜💜💜

As written by Tina Manning (November 2021)