After reviewing the test results, the oncologist tells Stefani that her cancer is stage III melanoma. He explains that tumors have spread beyond the lymph nodes that were removed to additional sites and developed metastasis or satellites in parts of the body near the tumor.
Stage III melanomas are defined by four primary characteristics:
Stage III melanoma is considered to be intermediate to high-risk and will require significant treatment. Stefani will need a lymphadenectomy to remove the other affected lymph nodes. Once healed, Stefani will begin chemotherapy with a medication called Dacarbazine; which will be administered daily for five to ten days, every three to four weeks, for 6 cycles. While on chemotherapy Stefani could experience nausea or vomiting; an inability to fight infection; flu like symptoms; unusual bleeding; easy bruising; light-headiness; a rapid heart rate; shortness of breath; loss of appetite; diarrhea; hair loss and/or a skin rash.
Following Stefani’s treatment, she will need to be examined yearly to be certain the cancer has not returned but also change her mindset that tanned skin is more beautiful. This can be overwhelming and may leave Stefani with a sense of loss, hopelessness or sadness. If she does experience these feelings, there are resources to help. Also, if new lesions are identified, they will need to be removed and biopsied. If additional melanomas are found, Stefani may again face surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation.