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Sandy Pierce: Melanoma

Sandy Pierce’s first brush with cancer was no big deal. “I had a small melanoma removed from my wrist in 1991, and never gave it another thought,” he says. Five years later, though, it was back with a vengeance.

Always an outdoorsy person, Sandy was feeling great and running five miles a day when he discovered the lump in his armpit. His physician brother-in-law urged him to have it checked out at MD Anderson. From there, things happened very fast. “My first appointment was on a Wednesday when they confirmed the melanoma diagnosis, and they started treatment that Friday.”

Despite a grueling treatment regimen that included biochemotherapy, lymph node removal, radiation and 12 months of high-dose interferon, Sandy never became depressed. “I didn’t give much thought to losing the battle. I had great support from family and friends that helped me get through this.”

Talking about his cancer and treatment with others like him was another coping mechanism that got Sandy through tough times. He hopes someday to get involved in formal counseling of cancer patients, providing the same support and encouragement that meant so much to him.

Although Sandy faced cancer with a lot of confidence, the experience did not leave him untouched. “I’m more disciplined, more focused now, and more emotional with my family, especially my kids,” he says. “I’m not scared of death or illness after what I’ve been through.” 

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center