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Pat’s medical update: More melanoma issues?

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Pat’s medical update: More melanoma issues?

I’m tempted to start this post by saying “Can’t a guy get a break!”

But I realize how many of you are going through a much tougher time than I am.  Still, my routine trip to a new dermatologist did not go as planned today.

I made an appointment with a local dermatologist, Dr. Raymond Shulstad, for two reasons.

First, I wanted to make a connection with someone closer than an hour away at the University of South Florida (USF).  And second, I have noticed a small cut/growth on my left cheek, just below my melanoma repaired ear which seems reluctant to heal.

I was pleasantly surprised by the care I received at the nearby Center for Dermatology.  I don’t want to go into it now (Don’t get Pattie going on this!), but medical care–at least in this part of Florida–is spotty at best.  Every strip mall and corner seems to house some sort of medical office.  But finding the right ones have proved to be challenging.

But the good news is since they are EVERYWHERE, you don’t have to drive far to find help.  This includes Oak Hill Hospital, which is a short ten minutes from our home.

An attractive woman in her 30’s,named Rita, prepped me.  Personable and professional, she was prompt and helpful.  Turns out her son in high school recently battled Hodgkins lymphoma, so we had much to chat about.

Rita gave way to Dr. Shulstad’s resident, Allison.  Are doctors really this young?  Guess that’s how it seems when you turn 56!  After looking me over, she quickly got the doctor.

Yes, the spot on my cheek–and four or five others up and down my body–needed to be removed NOW.

I hadn’t planned or scheduled for this, but they certainly got my attention.  A few short minutes later, Allison and Dr. Shulstad were cutting and digging around.  No pain–other than a bit of stinging from the lidocaine they used at each new “excavation site.”

When I asked why so much concern, Dr. Shulstad responded “You are post-melanoma now.  Every new mole or spot becomes suspicious.”

That’s OK.  Better safe than sorry.

Rita helped me check-out and I was on my way in just over an hour.  If it wasn’t for the previously mentioned cutting and digging around, I would classify my first visit there as a joy.

Now if I only didn’t need to drive a bit farther for my afternoon neupogen shot…

These twice a week neupogen shots seem to be helping my ANC (absolute neurtophil counts) to be holding well enough for me to alternate 25 mg Revlimid capusles with 10 mg capsules.

I start using 15 mg capsules next month.  Hopefully these won’t hit my counts so hard.

Anyway, all in all, things could be a lot worse!  I feel well enough to carefully start traveling again, speaking to a support group in Hilton Head, South Carolina early next week.

Pattie and I are going to make the six hour drive each way, so no germs and flying issues–Thank God!

This weekend I am going to share details with you from the exciting new measles myeloma therapy Mayo Clinic is experimenting with.  The subject I know, Richard, just mailed me a hard copy of his study protocol.

Also, watch for my monthly Myeloma Beacon column which runs today or Monday.  I will pass along a link when it does.

Until then, feel good and keep smiling!  Pat