UV Skinz would like to thank professional golfer, David Henry, and his mom, Chris Henry, for courageously sharing their stories with our UV Skinz family. Because of this family’s efforts, a portion of funds raised through the 2012 Greater Cedar Rapids Open annual golf tournament will be donated to The University of Iowa Foundation to benefit melanoma research at the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. This year the Greater Cedar Rapids Open joins fight against melanoma! You can watch the YouTube video here.
Mother and Son Battle Melanoma
A Mother’s Story
You have melanoma. 3 words that truly change your life forever. In August, 2008 those words were given to me. It was a few weeks later in September, 2008 that those words forever changed my life when the prognosis, after many tests was grim and to me a death sentence. I was told I had stage IV metastatic malignant melanoma and had no more than a year or so left. I was devastated and in shock as this wasn’t to happen to me. I had been introduced to melanoma in 1993 when a mole on my face, by my left ear was taken off and was in fact melanoma. After 3 surgeries, the doctors assured me all was clear and I had nothing to worry about. For many years I didn’t worry about and in fact went back to my love of tanning. I was a sun goddess and a tanning bed addict. I even went as far as starting a tanning business (with a very good friend) and totally abused tanning beds even more. In June, 2007 after I noticed a change in a small, reddish colored mole on the upper part of my left arm I went with the urging of others and had it removed. It too came back malignant. I had another surgery that went deep into my arm, taking muscle and tissue and was told once again they were sure they got it all. In the early part of 2008 I started to not feel good, having chest pains and arm pain. I thought it was due to stress so I didn’t see a doctor until mid-July. It was after many tests that I was given the final diagnosis. So here I was. Now what was I to do. My only child, David was to be moving very shortly to Florida as he had been accepted to attend the Professional Golfer’s Career College in Winter Garden. After overcoming some health problems himself due to football concussions in high school he was ready to pursue his dream of becoming a professional golfer. After receiving the news of my melanoma diagnosis David said he wouldn’t move that far away and would put his dreams on hold. I would not hear of it. So in a short period of time, we sold things, packed up and our family, along with my mom, headed to Florida. What should have been a very exciting time was overshadowed by the fact that we all thought I was going to Florida, to live out my days and to allow melanoma to take my life. Once we were settled in I started looking around for the right doctors and thankfully I found them. There was never any statistics discussed – only treatment options. By the time I started my first treatment of IL-2, I had tumors in my lungs and stomach. After an unsuccessful treatment the melanoma quickly spread to my brain. I’ve been through seizures, severe headaches, pain, throwing up, loss of appetite and everything else that goes along in fighting cancer. But one thing I’ve never lost was my faith and my never give up attitude. I made a promise to David that I would never give up and that’s one promise I plan to keep. Melanoma was winning but not taking my spirit. I have done the Gamma Knife procedure, Chemotherapy, IPI in trial phase, Yervoy and Zelboraf. Over 3 years later I’m still here fighting. I’ve beaten the odds. Some say I’m a miracle but I just believe God isn’t finished with me yet. I at one time had 6 tumors in my brain. I now have 2. I still have tumors in my brain, lungs, stomach, adrenal glands and arm but am hoping that my current treatment of Zelboraf (Braf) is the one that puts me into stabilization. My hair is slowly coming back in and although it’s coming in black and straight (far from the brown and curly hair I had all my life) I’m just thankful it’s coming back in at all. I don’t waste my energy on asking “why me” but instead use it to better educate people on the risks of Melanoma. God didn’t give me Melanoma, but rather He chose me for it. What I do in my journey with Melanoma is up to me and if I can touch one person and save them from ever going through what I’ve gone through then my journey is worth it.
But me having melanoma is not the worst thing that I’ve had to endure over my battle. That came last June when David went to the doctor and he too is now facing his own battle with this disease. He has had over 20 moles taken off, 8 malignant (several pre-cancerous). Being a professional golfer and spending the majority of his time in the sun only adds to his risk of melanoma plus add-on the hereditary factor and David is a melanoma patient waiting to happen. Fortunately, his has all been caught very early and has been able to be removed surgically. So, to say the least, having a cure for melanoma hits very close to home for David. With that in mind, he has made melanoma his platform for his golfing career. He is dedicating his career in raising awareness while giving part of his earnings to the Melanoma Research Foundation. As a mom I couldn’t be prouder of everything David is doing.
A Son’s Response
Hi there. This is David and before I go any further let me tell you that my mom is one of the strongest people I know. She’s never given up and is always there to help others who are battling Melanoma. She is my hero and inspiration and is why I’ve dedicated my golfing career in helping to raise awareness to Melanoma as well as in helping research to find a cure. After being urged and practically dragged to the doctor last year I too am now facing my personal battle with this disease. However, I’m one of the lucky ones as it’s been caught very early, hadn’t spread any further than the mole and made me realize it can happen to anyone. I’m at a higher risk, not only due to my profession but that Melanoma is hereditary. I will continue check-ups every 3 months as well as making sure I’m protected with proper SPF clothing (from UVSkinz) as well as sun block. I’m blessed that I’m able to pursue my dream and passion of golf and I’m fortunate that I’m able to use my profession to bring awareness of the dangers of Melanoma.
So many believe melanoma is just skin cancer – well this mom and son know better. Melanoma is a beast like no other. It comes to kill and destroy, having no prejudice for who it attacks. We’ve seen little children to the elderly fighting this battle. We’ve lost many close friends whom we’ve met in the melanoma community. David has his own website (www.playingforacure.biz) for his golfing career where he has remembered those that have touched his mom’s life – Chris Henry, Brandi Dickey, Brianna Collins, Barbara Riggins, Grace Jarrell, all who are currently fighting melanoma, Kerry Spindler, Vicki Curran, Lori Fredericks, all who are survivors and give us hope, Casey James, Tina Miller, Brian Perry, Jennifer Thomas, Shirely Paey, Michael Schwink, Jason Kane, Keri McCarthy, Raymond Newman, Duane Miller, Samantha Channels, all who fought the battle and have gained their wings. Paying tribute to the Circle of Heroes.
Melanoma – more than skin cancer. It can happen to you.
Never give in….Never stop believing…Never give up. Fighting 2gether Family 4ever.