Meredith's Story

Meredith was diagnosed with Melanoma on her scalp, with metastasis, in 2022. She was told about Penny Brohn UK and took great comfort in knowing there was support available when she needed it.

Meredith’s diagnosis

I am a Northern Irish woman living in England since my teens when I trained as a nurse, and I am approaching 76 years old. I am fair-skinned and have never liked heat, I used to get big blisters on my arms in childhood. My scalp is, I think, my weak spot. I used to get alopecia as a child, and illness or stress always showed on my head or in my hair.

My cancer journey started in 2022. A melanoma appeared and I was fast-tracked to Dermatology which included examination, photos, and at my second appointment, a biopsy. I was then referred to a surgeon for removal by local anaesthetic and a skin graft. This all went very well – the skin graft, as they warned me, was the most troublesome to heal! I was also warned that the tissue had shown malignant cells at a deeper level.

Later in the year another melanoma appeared. I had a full procedure with a second surgeon under full anaesthetic which is a risky business because I have damaged lungs through COPD and have had pneumonia three times. The procedure included removal of lymph cells in the neck showing activity and part of the muscle. It was a palliative operation of 2 1/2hrs because I would not have come through the indicated procedure of 6-8hrs.

“While there’s life, there’s life…”

No skin graft the second time, so the scalp and partly open wound in the neck to drain were very messy and took some time to heal. I didn’t have the indicated immunotherapy follow-up because there would be serious conflict with my Rheumatoid Arthritis. My treatment, which consists of close monitoring only at present, is officially palliative – but hey ho! Two PET scans have been clear, while there’s life, there’s life… I am hoping to take the opportunity of a holiday, which deteriorating mobility may mean is my last.

I am very pragmatic in taking the steps on this journey as they come, but I live alone and did become a bit frightened when I thought it might be in my brain, though this proved to be not the case. However, at this point, I did ask my cancer nurses for some support if possible. This is very great, deeply appreciated comfort.

I was very disappointed when I was diagnosed, but I tried not to brood on it. I had so many appointments due to other conditions which helped!

What may not be known about cancer is that very most often something can be done. Also, that it is possible to still live a good life through managing cancer. And with that thanks to charities like Penny Brohn UK, there is deep comfort out there to help us along the way.

A graphic of a quote from Meredith that reads "Just knwing Penny Brohn UK was there was a deep comfort and it helped sustain me"

Penny Brohn UK

I was referred to the good Penny Brohn UK – I joined the welcome to Penny Brohn UK sessions and had a 1-1 session.

I was glad to be offered the support of Penny Brohn UK when I became frightened. Just knowing they were there was a deep comfort and it helped to sustain me. Although I was and am pragmatic, at that wobbly point I did feel very alone. I felt grateful to the charity for that.

Meredith’s life and hope for the future

I am able, at least to a modest extent, to continue my engagements in the community and block of sheltered retirement apartments. We all need and like to keep up with our friends. My nature requires a lot of time to myself, which is increased by advancing years and poor health.

If I can bring my weak chest under control again, I am content, cheery, and thankful for all that is still good in my life.

I live alone but am always occupied as I like to read a lot, enjoy TV, am interested in life, people, and local activities. My friends have been and are very kind and supportive.

While there’s life, there’s life.

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