With early stage melanoma, particularly Stage 1, if the melanoma is surgically removed properly (with wide enough margins), then the chances of a recurrence are very low. Still, it is likely that melanoma affects certain people more than others, so it’s a good idea to avoid sun burning, and take good care of yourself. You should also get regular examinations and skin checks by a dermatologist who is very familiar with what melanoma looks like, and is conservative in their approach (i.e. they err on the side of removing suspicious looking moles early, instead of a “wait and see” approach). If you take this proactive approach, you are likely to remain melanoma-free for the rest of your life.
Unfortunately, once melanoma has reached Stage 3 or Stage 4, the fight gets a lot tougher, and the war, a lot longer. Statistically, the chances of recurrence, even if the treatment you used worked, are still high enough that a very diligent and rigorous post-treatment protocol can be very helpful.
This probably isn’t the news you’d like to hear. You just went through some of the most difficult months or years of your life, both physically and emotionally, you beat the melanoma and show no evidence of disease, and you want nothing more than to have melanoma grow to be a distant memory in your rear-view mirror.
I know that feeling, because my wife battled Stage 3 melanoma thirteen years ago, and then Stage 4 melanoma five years ago. After she was declared melanoma-free this last time, she decided that she was going to do everything she could… use every tool at her disposal, to proactively work towards keeping herself healthy and melanoma-free in the future.
Once my wife finished her biochemo treatment and surgeries and was declared “cancer-free”, we worked with an integrative medicine practitioner (http://www.foundhealth.com/melanoma/keith-block-md) to come up with a post-treatment protocol. Every day since then, she has been doing this protocol. It hasn’t been easy, and its not inexpensive. But we believe it has been enormously helpful in keeping her healthy. This protocol includes:
- Taking 4 handfuls of supplements EVERY DAY. These include general supplements to keep your immune system strong, as well as specific supplements that are known to keep melanoma at bay.
- Eating healthy: Eating a healthy diet keeps your body strong and your immune system strong – both very important to fighting melanoma. Additionally, eating foods that reduce inflammation (as opposed to those that increase it) has also been very important, since a lot of research now shows that inflammation supports the growth of melanoma.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been shown to reduce stress and keep the body balanced – two things that keep your body ready and able to fight melanoma.
- No sunburns: Research has started to show that reasonable, controlled sun exposure (10-15 mins a day) is not what causes melanoma, and in fact, produces vitamin D that may help fight melanoma. The culprit with melanoma is more likely overexposure to the sun, including sun burning. Wear sunscreen if you will be out in bright sun for long periods of time. Read more here: http://www.foundhealth.com/melanoma/melanoma-and-vitamin-d3
- Positive thinking: The power of positive thinking is enormous and can help you keep melanoma away. See my write-up here (http://www.foundhealth.com/melanoma/melanoma-and-positive-attitude-and-thinking).
- Regular scans: Make sure that you get regular scans and they are read by trained technicians who know what to look for with melanoma. You should continue under the care of a very experienced specialist with melanoma, and they will set up a scan schedule and make sure you are properly monitored.
While this post-treatment has been difficult and expensive (the supplements are a couple of hundred dollars a month), there is no doubt in my mind that it has helped keep my wife melanoma-free since she won her “battle” with Stage 4 melanoma five years ago. She took the attitude that she may have won the battle, but she is going to keep fighting every day, for the rest of her life, to make sure she also wins the war.
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