More from Adam

I was born in 1972. I’ve been married to my wife, Michelle, for 11 years…but we’ve been together since we were 19 years old. We have two sons, Jack (9) and Hayden (6). I’m a real estate lawyer at Minden Gross LLP. Outside of work, I coach my boys in baseball, t-ball, soccer and hockey (6 separate teams each in 2010 and 2011).

My Experience with Melanoma

I have a lot of the risk factors; redhead with freckles and pale skin, spent childhood playing sports in the sun, many bad sunburns at a very young age.

My first diagnosis was in 1998. Sentinel node biopsy. Malignant melanoma (but no spread).

In February 2002 we had Jack.

My second diagnosis was in August 2002. Same place but under the skin. Treated as if first occurrence had spread. Odds of survival – 50/50 to live 5 years.

Then treatment. After many consultations in US and Canada – had all lymph nodes removed under right armpit and then 1 year of interferon (high dose for 1 month with daily treatments in hospital and 11 months of low dose needles at home). This was a tough treatment.

In June 2004: Hayden was born using frozen sperm sample (we had only one chance).

Now: monitoring but no further occurrences.

Since the Diagnosis

I had no idea that Malignant Melanoma, which started with a small bump on the outside of my skin, was so aggressive and had the potential to be so deadly. When it grows deep, it is not just a matter of “getting it off.” I find that to be the most common mistake people make.

I am so grateful to be alive.  I am so lucky to have a wonderful wife who stood by me, stands by me and supports me every step of the way in everything that I do. It was her strength that helped get me through the treatment and has given me the opportunity to help raise two wonderful sons. My parents were also very strong. Now that I am raising two boys, I am not sure how they held it together.  I know it would be tougher on me to see my son sick than to be sick myself.

I also found out very quickly who my true friends were. There is nothing that points that out more clearly than a serious illness.  Many people in my life seemed to disappear very quickly. It is the people who can still look you in the eye when you are sick that you want to keep around.

Advice I’d Give

Enjoy the sun and live your life but make sure to cover up in the sun. I can promise you that the joy you get from a suntan is not worth the interferon injections or worse.

As an adult you have a choice to cover up in the sun or not. Kids are too young to be given that choice. Sunscreen feels like crap when you put it on. Given the choice to put it on, kids will say no.  Make the kids cover up and wear sunscreen. Give them a chance to be protected. You could be saving their life. Avoiding burns as a child could make the difference.

My Thanks

I have had many skin and cancer docs over the years. Most of them have been excellent. One stands out. Thank you Dr. McCready.  Thank you for keeping me alive. Thank you for treating me with respect and dignity and taking an interest in me and my family and not just my “case.” Thank you for trying to understand what it is like to live with Melanoma even though, thank goodness, you have not. You are one of the good guys.

10 Responses

  1. Charlie

    Thank you so much for the video – saw a tweet about today and have watch it about 5 times now and sent it around on facebook and twitter. At age 35 I too was diagnosis with a Stage III melanoma that had worked into my lymph nodes – out of the blue. I too now have the scars, the missing hair(still!)and the other reminders of cancer. But I too still have my life, my family, and my hope. My hope is the important one since it effects the others so much.

    Cancer takes, we only get back from it what we take by the force of our own will.

    My hope is that if this message gets one person to go get checked or put on SPF 100 then it was worth bugging them about. Thanks again.

    May 4, 2011 at 19:39

  2. Me.

    I saw your video on youtube. I’m 13, and now going to make sure this summer i cover up. I’m happy that now i know to watch out for it. Thank you.

    May 9, 2011 at 23:38

  3. A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook for me last week. I’ve watched it a half a dozen time since, and break down in tears each time. Healing tears.

    I lost my mom almost 16 years ago to melanoma. She was 33. This video is so unbelievably powerful. Thank you all so much for creating it. I have shared it everywhere I possibly could.

    This video prompted me to write this http://www.goodblogs.com/view-post/Dear-16-year-old-Me – A letter to my 16-year-old Me. This video helped me to release emotions that needed to come out. For me to see this right before Mother’s Day — I needed this.

    I’ve been pushing the sunscreen/no tanning talk with people for years. I am grateful for your work in helping to get that message across.

    Thank you.

    May 13, 2011 at 04:27

  4. Danielle

    Hi 🙂

    I just watched the video. First off, you’re right, the three prequel Star Wars ruined EVERYTHING. I like to pretend they don’t exist. Kinda like the fourth Indiana Jones movie.

    Second off, thank you so much for helping with this video. I’m 20 years old, very pale (blonde though, not ginger). Luckily, I’ve never been much for tanning, mostly ’cause I’ve never been very good at it. I usually go straight to burn (not very often though so maybe I’ll be okay).

    But I definitely am not going to keep trying now. Thank you for spreading the word and good luck 🙂

    May 18, 2011 at 19:36

  5. Morgan Coons

    I loved this video, and you star wars reference. I too have red hair and am light skinned, my grandma has skin cancer and i never thought much about actually getting it, but i knew i could. It really made me think how i treat my body and i need to check to make sure everything is fine. This video really is saving peoples lives. I may never get melanoma but you never know who mite, and who will catch it because of this video. The people behind this video, and in this video are heroes and nothing less. Thank you!

    May 23, 2011 at 03:48

  6. Jules

    I was diagnosed with stage 2B malignant melanoma in my right leg in January 2010 at 46 years of age. It was a process, but in April 2010 I underwent surgery to have it removed as well as undergoing a sentinel lymph node biopsy. I now have what I call my “shark bite”, or badge of courage, on my right leg.

    It’s been over one year now and I finally feel like I am cancer free (I hope!). I requested CT follow-ups for a period of time since I found out that treatment varies depending on the stage of the skin cancer. I will always need to monitor with monthly skin checks.

    I thank Princess Margaret Hospital and The Womens’ College Hospital for their ongoing care. We are very fortunate in Toronto to have such medical resources.

    Your video is a very powerful reminder of the importance of skin checks. I had no idea of the risk until friends suggested that I see a doctor about the mole on my leg. I do remember occasions as a teenager of “getting too much sun” and wish I could turn back the clock. I want to express my condolences and thank you for your bravery in the production of this video. A tip of the sunscreen hat to everyone else who participated too!

    July 9, 2011 at 05:39

  7. Okan

    Thank you so much for the video . saw a tweet about today and have watch it about 5 times now and sent it around on facebook and twitter.And Adam if you give your mail address ı want to talk about it whit you. I’m glad the you have health. ı wait a news from you. okannbensiz@gmail.com

    September 2, 2011 at 17:33

  8. Elle

    I came across your video when one of my friends posted it on facebook. I am 20 and I only wish that I could’ve seen it when I was younger. It is truly eye opening and I have reposted it in hopes that it will be spread so as many people as possible can hear the message of Malignant Melanoma.

    December 13, 2011 at 05:43

  9. Jennifer

    Thanks Adam… I love the video. My husband, 37, is undergoing home Interferon injections right now for his Stage III Malignant Melanoma. We’re in the final stretch, about 4 months to go.

    Your story hit a bit closer to home as we have two daughters, one of which is ginger.

    Keep smiling and thank-you again.

    March 23, 2012 at 17:26

  10. betül

    I’ve been worried about the possible. My father is 58 years old for early diagnosis of malignant melanoma, and doctors say that lucky.
    Adam, Thanks for your introduction, and video.
    Health, with the hope to take a step.
    Betul.

    December 25, 2012 at 08:20

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