Today is the one year anniversary of the day that Laura was rushed to Beth Israel Hospital to see a top cancer specialist. On a routine exam in the morning her gynecologist found a golf ball size mass in her vagina. Two days later we were told it was mucosal melanoma. 11 days later we were told there was no cure. ‘Go home, there is nothing more doctors can do for you.’ Online all we could find about the disease were stories of tragedy and despair. So I am dedicating today’s post to the mucosal melanoma survivors. Especially the two women who told me their stories. They both had the almost identical vaginal mucosal melanoma to Laura and are still alive today.
These two women’s stories show you can recover from this rare aggressive disease. Both women had minimal surgery. The first woman had her tumor surgically removed (not the radical pelvic exenteration that Laura was offered at Beth Israel hospital) and then had radiation to shrink and destroy any rogue cells left in the area. She then did the Gerson therapy for 2 years to rebuild her immune system and ensure the cancer never returned. She has been well now for over 15 years. The second woman, Teodora was rushed to the ER with profuse vaginal bleeding. The doctors assumed it was just a fibroid, so she went home. When the profuse bleeding returned a month later, she had an immediate laparoscopic hysterectomy with minimal surgical invasion. She is confident this saved her life. ‘More invasive surgery would have spread the cancer to my lymph nodes and tissues’. The surgeon pulled out her uterus (and with it the tumor) through her vagina (which she believes caused a minor spread of the disease to her vagina. This was caught quickly and treated with radiation). It is noteworthy that her tumor wasn’t biopsied when it was still inside her body (only after the whole uterus was removed). I am pretty certain that biopsy spreads this disease (as it obviously did with Laura). Teodora is well and surviving 4 years on. Bravo!! Bravo!! My hope is that the doctors (and patients) can learn from these stories and more like them.
If you know someone who has survived this disease please do contact me and tell me your story. The more information we have, the more chance there is to save lives.