Fighting For Nearly a Decade
- Tina Manning, 57, had a self-admitted sun obsession as a child. In her 40s, she was diagnosed with melanoma. Fighting now for nearly 10 years, the cancer warrior has had 20 tumors and countless treatment sessions throughout.
- It’s crucial to protect yourself and your children from the sun. If you have already been diagnosed with an advanced stage melanoma, know there are new immunotherapy medicines that can reduce the risk of melanoma ever coming back.
- Survival rates for stage four of the disease have improved dramatically since even a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean we should not take sun protection seriously. Get into your dermatologist today for a skin check to see where you’re at as a far as sun damage.
As many parts of the world experience consistent, record-breaking temperatures, Tina from a town called Luton in the UK felt the need to remind as many of us as possible to protect our skin and especially our young ones.Read More
“Back in the 80s, that was the thing to do. If you went away on holiday you wanted to come back with a bit of colour, even if that colour was red,” the Melanoma UK ambassador expressed of the top tanning decade.
“There was no one telling us that that was dangerous or could cause long term issues, it was just what everyone was doing.”
Tina’s Melanoma Diagnosis
Diagnosed with melanoma in 2013, Tina was shocked when she found out she had a tumor in her intestines. Fortunately, even though it was a tough diagnosis to swallow, it was elevated white blood cells discovered in a routine blood test that pointed doctors in the direction of the tumor.
Nine, years later, she is still battling the disease.
“I had surgery to have it removed and thought that was the end of it.”
However, it unfortunately “just keeps coming back.” Tina has now had 20 tumors in total and can’t even put a number to the duration of treatment she has had. She has survived one on her brain as well.
Tina tried immunotherapy, a treatment that helps encourage your body’s natural immune system to fight the cancer, for four years until she developed colitis, an inflammatory reaction in the colon. Although this can be a common side effect, it’s important to know that many people have had success with immunotherapy treatment.
“There’s also been three Cyberknife treatments, all of which have helped reduce brain and neck Mets.” Cyberknife is a noninvasive alternative to surgery that can treat tumors anywhere on the body.
“I just want to raise awareness about dangerous it can people. People always think, it won’t happen to me, but that’s what I thought, and it did.”
Tanning beds, as many experts agree, are also extremely dangerous. It’s a wise idea to steer clear.
“I see so many new patients who have been using sun beds and now they have melanoma, it’s so clear that they’re part of the problem.”
Tina thinks tanning bed usage should be regulated, and we absolutely agree, if not eradicated completely. “At the moment, I could walk down the high street and go into three different tanning places all in one day and they wouldn’t know,” she said. “It’s been proven that they cause melanoma, yet there’s nothing to limit how people use them.”
“This is something that people do get addicted too but we just ignore that,” she added. Very true. Many use the term “tanorexic” because similar to anorexia, there are some who see something in the mirror that is vastly different than how others perceive them. People with dark dark tans have the feeling that they are pale.
Luckily, we are getting better as a whole, but there are women like Tina who are still fighting for their lives because of a lack of knowledge and regulation.
Learning More About Melanoma Treatment
If you have melanoma, you have a solid chance at treating it and getting on with your life, says Dr. Anna Pavlick, Professor of Medicine and Dermatology at NYU’s Perlmutter Cancer Center.
There are also new immunotherapy medicines that can reduce the risk of melanoma ever coming back. And survival rates for stage four of the disease have improved dramatically since even a decade ago.
“Patients with stage 1 melanoma are cured by excision 90% of the time. So only about 10% of stage 1 patient will ever have the risk of that coming back,” Dr. Pavlick tells SurvivorNet.
Related: How is Melanoma Treated After Surgery? The Landscape of Therapies Explained
“Patients with stage 2 disease have about as 75% to 80% chance of being fine. This is why we watch patients very closely,” she says, explaining that they are seen by their dermatologist and surgeon to keep tabs on the disease and potential recurrence.
Patients with stage 3 disease roughly have a 50/50 chance of being OK just from surgery, “however, we now have brand new medicines, or immunotherapy medicines, that can significantly reduce their risk of this ever coming back.”
And finally, as far as patients with stage 4 disease, like Tina?
“It’s a very different world now than it was even five years ago,” Dr. Pavlick says hopefully. “We’ve got wonderful medicines that impact patient survival and really have led to patients living normal, long, healthy lives after getting therapy, and even coming off therapy.”
“These are not medicines that they need to be on for their entire life,” she adds. “Sometimes, yes, but many times, no.”
Bottom line, we hope you never have to deal with any of the above, but get your skin checked to be sure … and make sure to stay out of the sun as much as possible or use a higher SPF frequently!