Once again, I've given too much information, but I offer it as a testament to NEVER GIVE UP:
My husband has Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Spindle variety. This is just as aggressive as melanoma. He had a kidney transplant in 2012 and the cancer appeared in summer of 2014. SCC is associated with transplants (because of immuno-suppression) and particularly with kidney transplant (they don't know why kidney more than others).
In summer of 2014, he had a small lesion on top of his head and went to the regular dermatologist who scraped it and froze it. This went on for 2-3 months before the doctor sent him to a Mohs surgeon. In the meanwhile, new tumors had appeared in other places on his head. The first trip to the Mohs surgeon was a doozy. When finished, the doctor had me come into the room and stationed a nurse to stand behind me in case I passed out. There were 6-7 separate excisions – the smallest were the size of a quarter and the largest was about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. The dressing was to apply mupirocin and wadded Xeroform, covered by Telfa pads. The incisions required no stitches or grafts. They healed from the outside toward the center.
The tumors continued to come and my husband was having 2-3 removed by Mohs each week. After about 2 months the doctor recognized that it could not be controlled and he arranged a referral to Mayo Jacksonville.
On July 29, 2015 a surgery was done to resect a large portion of his scalp – approx. 5” by 7”. This was accomplished via regular surgery rather than Mohs. It is called a “free flap.” A section of left mid-back tissue was taken for the graft. This was topped with skin shaved from his left thigh which turned out to be the most painful of all. It looked and felt like a road rash, so we jokingly told the story of him wiping out on his Harley on the way to Sturgis. Immediately after the surgery to install the flap, he underwent 8 weeks of radiation. This has left the flap tissue subject to erosions which continue to this day. If he had not had the radiation, the flap would have indeed been a beautiful illustration of the skill of the plastic surgeons at Mayo. But radiation is the gift that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving. He wears a doo-rag in public.
He had one 1 ½” diameter surgery done by a local ENT where a graft was used. It healed well, but since there was nothing to replace the tissue which was taken, there is a depression in that spot.
The cancer spread to major organs, but thankfully in June of 2016 his local doctors met as a tumor board and decided to try Keytruda. As of May of this year, the PET scan was completely clear. It truly is a miracle.