Melanoma warrior story: Lorie

We met Lorie in March 2021. She was born in Ohio, but recently moved to the "Sunshine State" - Florida. Lorie is a real yachtsman and sailor, and she has also defeated melanoma twice.
Many of Lorie's things are connected with the sea. This is a hobby and lifestyle, a way to relax and, conversely, to get when you have to literally fight with the elements. And she found out that she has melanoma thanks to a vacation on a yacht. It was a family evening when she told her retired nurse mom that she had damaged a mole on her leg. Mother advised to see a doctor to be sure that it was "just a mole".

"That was in August of 2017, and I went to the dermatologist, and I wasn't sure what to expect, you know, like anybody, I was nervous to go to the appointment. But when I got into the room and saw the walls plastered with all sorts of posters about melanoma, that's when I got that sick feeling that I had, that this could be bad. So, when they did that biopsy, and I realized what they had just done, I think that's the moment I knew, I had something ahead of me that I was going to have to deal with. So, while I was at work, a couple of days later, I got that horrible phone call that I had cancer, and it was malignant melanoma".

It is difficult to imagine what range of feelings our heroine experienced when she received the diagnosis.

"You don't know how to process that information, because like any other cancer, I think you have a preconceived notion of what it's about, what treatments might be, you've seen enough about it. But melanoma, you don't. You don't really have that information to base anything on and I think you go through that thought process of I'm gonna die, my life is over, you see your life flash before you, you sit there and think about all the things you never did, about the people that you're not going to see anymore".

After that phone call, Lorie quickly went into surgery, where she had a wide excision on the side of her leg and had lymph nodes removed from her groin. When the results of the histological examination came, it turned out that it was a melanoma at the third stage, after which she underwent a year of immunotherapy.
As often happens at sea, the weather changes from a sunny day to a raging storm, and the news of the return of the disease after a year of treatment caught Lorie by surprise.

"This was something that was small on the side of my leg, but had already travelled to lymph nodes and after that whole year of immunotherapy, within six weeks, I found a lump and they said it came back confirmed after a biopsy it was melanoma again. So, I had to go through another surgery and another whole year of immunotherapy. So, it's tricky and my experience isn't like everybody else is experienced and I understand that. But you never know what you're going to be dealt with. And again, if I had known sooner, things could have been different".

A small digression: when Lorie was prescribed immunotherapy, it was an innovative treatment that had just been approved by the FDA.

Lorie hosts her podcast, where she talks with people from different spheres, and also tells stories of the same warriors with melanoma as herself.

"Next month for Skin Cancer Awareness Month, I am going to be doing a series of melanoma survivors or people who deal in the industry of skin protection. So I really want to highlight that for that month, and really bring forth a lot of information and in stories about people who have survived this, because I know it's so hard to see, especially in some of these social groups, how there are people who keep getting challenged by it, or don't survive it and that's heartbreaking because I came from 11 years of working in the funeral home industry, and dealing with grieving families and loss and trauma and I know how hard that part of life is. Anything you can do to prevent this or protect yourself from it is my main focus and if you've gotten yourself in a situation where you are going through a cancer diagnosis, then what I'm doing now with my podcast is highlighting the people who have been able to take that and turn it into something positive".
The interview was conducted by Karina Kibo, COO Artes Electronics
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