First published on August 22, 2015
Diana Ashby should not have died from melanoma. Unfortunately, her melanoma was improperly staged. According to her husband, former shuttle pilot Jeff Ashby, trusting her physician is what basically killed her. Not long after I was diagnosed, Jeff called, talked to me for about an hour, telling me what I needed to do, and telling me his wife’s story. Her death was still quite raw to him. It made such an impression on me, that it has become one of the most important causes of my life. Of all the major cancers, if you catch melanoma early, it is 100% curable. Frankly, I’m furious about what is going on with Jimmy Carter. This should never had happened.
President Carter has melanoma which has mets to the brain. It is the end stage of melanoma, and most likely is the result of a melanoma nevis which went undetected. There is a physician in ABQ who is taking what is basically a cure for late-stage mel brain lesions to the FDA for approval. I think he’s already been through the clinical trials. Obviously, President Carter’s physicians are so behind the curve that they don’t realize one phone call could basically get the treatment which will, at his stage, almost provide a cure.
Of all the deadly cancers, melanoma is the most easily caught and cured at an early stage. Mine was caught, in 1997, insitu. The second primary was caught right before that stage. Where there is one primary, another will appear, years later. I am currently watching a spot on my right arm. Thanks to living in New Mexico (and our out of control insurance rates), and the ACA, I can’t afford to have the nevis removed. I still have time with this nevis, I think.
What completely frustrates me about attempts to discuss melanoma is the general ignorance about this specific cancer. It behaves differently. There is also an inherent bias which states that blacks don’t get melanoma. Consequently, if you are black, you are more likely to die of the disease or have it caught at a late stage, because most doctors are abjectly ignorant about how to look for it. Black women have the highest mortality rate. The profile is for very fair skin, blue or green eyes, blond or red hair, and don’t tan. That’s me. But, blacks do get it, and need to be aware of it, because their physician won’t be.
This with President Carter makes me almost physically ill. I’ve been crossing my fingers for the day when a cure is available. It’s basically there. I now know I probably won’t die from the disease. President Carter’s life could be saved, if he had a more informed medical team. I’m hearing they’re doing the new immune therapy chemo and radiation. There are 4 mets to the brain. He’s Stage 4. I also am well aware there is a ‘cure’ out there for Stage 4 melanoma. I have known about it since 2004. I knew about the clinical trials, and the people who were undergoing the trials. The results were dramatic.