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Boyfriend diagnosed with stage 3 Melanoma

22 Feb 2021 15:18

I have been with the love of my life for 4 years but we have only really been in a proper relationship (living together) for the past year and a half.

He was diagnosed in December 2020 with melanoma and with the likes of Covid-19 I feel that being in lockdown is making it feel so hard because we can't go out and distract ourselves or see any family.


I have done lots of research and I felt like I would have been prepared for the diagnosis but there was a misunderstanding and my boyfriend believed they told him he was all clear after the initial surgery. We believed this was the case for a week but when we went for a dressing change I asked the question "so now he's all clear what now" and the nurse, bless her, was very confused. After leaving the room and retuning with another nurse the bombshell was dropped. Neither of us were prepared at all. This was a few days ago so it's still sinking in again.


I feel like it's happening to me and then I feel so guilt for being so emotional, I should be positive and I have managed to contain my emotions until now. I'm always the first to get upset as it takes him longer to register what's happening so when I'm upset he's there for me and by the time it hits him I'm over my emotions and ready to be there for him. But I'm scared I'm not being supportive enough because for the past few days anything and everything is setting me off. I feel like I need to see my family or my friends to get it all in perspective and then I can be back to being strong but lockdown has really prevented that. 

I can't sleep because I'm Googling trying to understand and now we have been given a date for axillary dissection but it's in another 4 weeks and I feel this is too long. They removed his sentinel node and biopsies it 4 weeks ago.

I understand there are delays with Covid-19 but is 8 weeks too long between a sentinel node biopsy and an axillary dissection ? I'm scared it will spread even more.

Any advice is appreciated. Sorry for the rant.



Boyfriend diagnosed with stage 3 Melanoma

23 Feb 2021 10:15 in response to rosierobins

Hi rosierobins,

Bless you, it's always harder on our loved ones than on us, the patient. I'm sure you are doing a brilliant job of being there for him and researching everything.

Just to put it into some perspective - the wait for the dissection will make little or no difference to the chance of any spread. The fact that the melanoma & the affected nodes in the SLNB have already been removed is good so you have to focus on that. Hopefully, the nodes taken in the dissection will all come back clear but if they don't, it's still not the end of the world (my consultant's words)! As a Stage 3 patient your boyfriend will be offered a year of adjuvant treatment after his surgery, to help prevent any further recurrence. This only became available 2 years ago & is showing great promise so it's more 'ammunition' in his arsenal. Also, there are many Stage 3 patients (including myself) who have survived for 10+ years already without any drug treatment so progression isn't always a foregone conclusion.

I will send you a friend request so that, if you accept it, we can chat some more & I can send you some information that will help. My advice now is to take things in small steps rather than jump ahead in the future - it's easier to understand what's happening now first. Practical information, such as what care your boyfriend will need after his dx, is the best thing to focus on & then once the results are in the consultant can decide which of the drugs will be the best treatment.

Take care & best wishes to you both,

Angie (Stage 3 melanoma patient)

Boyfriend diagnosed with stage 3 Melanoma

23 Feb 2021 11:00 in response to AngieT

Thank you so much for your response. Just hearing that it makes little to no difference has made me feel calmer and I think I can focus on your words now. I have been panicking a bit with the timescale for the next op.

The CT scan came back showing no need for concern but they have found a cyst on his pancreas and they need to look into it more. They found that on 4th January but nothing has been mentioned since. When I asked about it they said they will let a specialist have a look.

I have accepted your friend request and look forward to speaking more.

Thanks once again for messaging back.


Boyfriend diagnosed with stage 3 Melanoma

23 Feb 2021 13:26 in response to rosierobins

Hello and thank you for posting on Cancer Chat. I am sorry to learn about your boyfriend's situation. This must be difficult for you both.

It seems that you have had some good advice from Angie  and I am very glad that she came forward to offer support.

I can imagine that it must have been devastating to learn that more treatment was needed, when you had thought that this was all behind you and that you and your partner could move on.  On hearing this sort of thing it is relatively common to feel all over the place for quite a few days and sometimes longer. But after this initially shock, for most people the anxieties usually subside to more manageable levels. So, you need to be kind to yourself and let this news sink in.

Don't beat yourself up for being emotional as bottling it all up won't help in the long run. Also, I have rarely come across a close relative or partner of someone with cancer who feels that they are doing it right. Practically everyone thinks that thy should be doing it better and offering more support. But in truth there is not really a right way of handling this sort of thing, people find a way as they go along. Almost everyone feels helpless and unsure. The fact that you are there by your partner's side will be a support.

You mentioned that you keep looking for information on the internet. While there is a lot of good health information on the worldwide web do remember that it is unregulated, so you cannot believe all that you read  and you may find information that it is not true and upsetting. So stick to reliable sites and as well as our site, I would recommend Melanoma Foccus and Melanoma UK. These organisations can also offer support.   

While I am sure that it would be good to get the axillary node dissection out of the way, most people have to wait to get it done, yet the outlook for people with stage 3 melanoma has been improving. So, for most people the wait does not seem to make a big difference. 

As you said, dealing with this sort of thing is particularly difficult at the moment as you cannot see and hug your family and friend's. But if things go well maybe the time when you can do this is not so far away. I know it is not the same, but do call trusted family and friend's and talk to them. This is important as most people do need this kind of support. If you wanted to talk with someone who is not involved, then  you are welcome to give us a call and our number is at the bottom of this reply. Macmillan Cancer Support   are also able to provide a listening  ear, as can the two melanoma charities that I mentioned.

Please get back to us if you have any other questions.  If you would like to telephone the number to call is Freephone 0808 800 4040 and the lines are open from 9am till 5pm Monday to Friday.

Kind regards,