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Patient Care: Patient Profile

Annual Report - 2006-2007

Good Times Ahead

By Eileen A. Ellig

Jason Connelly

Ask Jason Connelly what his future looks like and he’s quick to say that it’s “bright.”

That wasn’t the case about two years ago, however, when a diagnosis of metastatic melanoma cast a shadow over his life, dimming the very light that shines over him today.

The diagnosis came as a shock, and once again he found himself face-to-face with cancer. His first encounter with the often deadly skin cancer was in 2000 when a suspicious mole turned out to be melanoma.

His dermatologist urged him to go to M. D. Anderson, and that’s when he met Paul Mansfield, M.D., professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology.

“He took a chunk out of my back about the size of a silver dollar and lymph nodes to be sure the cancer hadn’t spread,” Connelly recalls. “Everything turned out fine, and that was that.”

So he thought.

Thirty-something and cancer-free, he embraced life — getting married, becoming a dad and going back to school to get his M.B.A. from Rice University.

He was at the top of his game when cancer struck for a second time in 2006. Unbeknownst to him, the extra pounds he was putting on were actually the weight of excess fluid brought on by cancer.

“When you can’t button a jacket you had tailored two weeks earlier, you realize something must be wrong,” he says. “But, I didn’t think it would be cancer.”

Hundreds of small melanomas, Mansfield would tell him, filled his stomach. Despite a poor prognosis, Connelly was determined to beat the odds. The road to recovery wouldn’t come easy, as he had to tolerate strong doses of three different chemotherapy agents and powerful immune system-stimulating drugs to aggressively treat the disease.

The therapy worked, and he’s now picking up where he left off before cancer interrupted his life. He’s on schedule to graduate in May and already has a job lined up at a natural gas company in Houston.

“Life is going well,” Connelly says. “It seems as though I’m on a long streak of really good things. And I think I deserve them.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center