My Melanoma Story

I’m Martha. I’m a wife, mom, teacher, God-chaser, researcher, melanoma blogger, and patient advocate. I have stage 4 Melanoma, it’s the “bad” skin cancer. When I was diagnosed in September of 2009 it was in my lymph nodes. I was 29 years old. Over the past five years I have developed tumors in my lymph nodes, lungs and even in my brain.

I am currently in a clinical trial of a drug called anti-pd1 which prevents melanoma from hiding from my immune system. I’ve been in this trial more than a year and am making real headway in fighting these tumors! Even with tumors shrinking, the clinical trial has had its adventures. In fall of 2013, my immune system attacked dying tumors in my brain and caused auto-immune meningitis. That brought spinal taps, frequent MRIs and steroid treatments. I was glad to put those few months behind me!

I am passionate about sun safety for adults and kids. I use this space to post updates about my cancer journey as well as tips for keeping you and your family sun safe! I have a 9 and 10-year-old, so I am experienced at wrestling sunscreen on squirmy children. I also post sunscreen and sun protective clothing reviews. What do you want to know about sunscreen? Chemical vs. mineral? Application tips? How to protect that pesky part in your hair? Stay tuned!

Follow me on Twitter: @martha


Sept 2009 – Diagnosed with malignant melanoma
Oct 2009 – Sentinal Node Biopsy and wide excision
Oct 2009 –Lymphadenectomy
Dec 2009 – High Dose Interferon
Jan 2010 – Dec 2010 – Interferon
Jan 2011 – Tumor removal 1
Mar 2011 -DERMA Trial
July 2011 -Tumor removal 2
Sept 2011 – Tumor removal 3
Sept 2011 – Fail DERMA
Nov 2011 – Radiation to back
Dec 2011 – Stage 4
Jan 2012 – IL-2
Feb 2012 – Yervoy/DTIC
Aug 2012 – Fail Yervoy/DTIC
Aug 2012 – Zelboraf
Dec 2012 – Fail Zelboraf
Jan 2013 – Brain Mets
Jan 2013 – Temodor/Avastin
Jan 2013 – SRS
Apr 2013 – Anti pd1 Trial

Sept 2013- Autoimmune meningitis

Sept 2014- 5 Year Cancerversary


Read 10 comments

  1. Dear Martha,

    Thanks for the inspiring blog. Your open and sincere style helps other cope with the challenges of this nasty disease.
    My father, 63 years old, was diagnosed with Melanoma on may 2013, which started on his back, progressed aggressively to the lymph nodes, and then unfortunately straight to the brain and cerebrospinal fluid.
    He’s not going for whole brain radiotherapy with temozolomide, and we’re now looking for alternatives for the therapy.
    I see you managed to beat your brain metastases, and I can see you went stereo-tactic radiotherapy. What finally killed those metastases? was it the radiotherapy alone, or combined with some systemic treatment?
    Your response will be highly appreciated.

    Best regards and keep up the good work healing and blogging!

    Rotem Littman (Israel)

    • Dear Rotem, Thank you for the reply! I have been very blessed that my brain responded to stereotactic radiosurgery and I have not had any brain tumors since. I was on Temodar and Avastin after the SRS to get my brain stable while I waited to get into a my current anti-pd1 trial therapy. During the anti-pd1 trial I did have auto-immune meningitis when my immune system attacked the tumor beds due to one of the immune therapies I am on or was on previously.
      It sounds like your father may have leptomeningeal disease. I have heard of some success with Avastin and Temodar by an oncologist at my cancer site. I also know of a patient who was treated with Interleukin delivered straight to his brain. I hope that helps somewhat. You might find the forums at MRF helpful. Please let me know if I can help you find other information or support. If you are on facebook, my husband is involved with a wonderful caregivers group where you can find emotional support. Let me know if I can help you get set up in that group. Best wishes to you and your father!

  2. Hello Martha – I am excited to see you are doing well on Keytruda. My husband is stage IV as well and currently has a large tumor in his abdomen and is awaiting surgery. I see many of the treatments you had previously are the same ones he has had as well with little success. I am hoping that Keytruda is the next one after surgery is done and he will have the same awesome results as you!

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story! I lost my 1st husband almost 5 years ago to Melanoma and I love hearing how far the drug therapies have come since then and how others are thriving!

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