Challenging the Grim Statistics of Stage IV Melanoma
When her cancer spread to her lungs, Christina McEvoy, the mother of two young boys, sought the state-of-the-art treatments that would give her the best chance to beat her disease.
Any cancer diagnosis can be scary. A diagnosis of stage IV melanoma that carries just a 20 percent chance of surviving five years is terrifying. But the impact of receiving that diagnosis as the mother of two young children is beyond words.
But that was the reality that confronted 32-year-old Christina McEvoy of Meridian, Idaho, her husband, Eric, and their two sons – Austin, 5, and Carson, 2 – when a CT scan revealed that her recurrent melanoma had spread to her lungs.
"The statistics were so grim," said Christina, who remembers the gut-wrenching realization that if she didn't survive, neither of her kids would have substantial memories of her. "They were so young. That was the most frightening part for me."
Christina had first been diagnosed with stage I melanoma in 2007 when she was pregnant with Carson. Two years later the young mother felt a lump in her groin. The cancer had returned. This time, she was diagnosed with stage III melanoma. That's when she began to explore clinical trials to find newer treatments to keep the aggressive cancer at bay. Three months later, however, a CT scan revealed Christina had tumors on her lungs. Her cancer had metastasized. Christina had stage IV melanoma. It was August 2010.
Christina began a four-month biochemotherapy regimen. Two months into this new regimen, five of the six tumors in Christina's lungs had disappeared and the remaining tumor was shrinking and had no active cancer cells.
With her cancer in remission, Christina has turned to helping others confronting melanoma. Along with other patients near Boise she met during her illness, Christina has formed a nonprofit organization –
Sol Survivors Melanoma Foundation – that provides resources and evidence-based information to help others going through a diagnosis and treatment.
"I know how unpredictable cancer can be, but I'm just trying to live in the moment," Christina said. "I can't worry about the future, because it hasn't happened yet."
Read Christina's full story "Knowing Her Options" and learn what she is doing to help others diagnosed with melanoma from the Summer 2014 issue of Cancer Today.