In Memory of Fellow Fighter Katie

This is a very important guest post written by a wonderful woman, Fran. Fran's daughter lost her battle against pancreatic cancer and since she has done everything in her power to raise awareness. I met Fran's son-in-law while on the television show Miami Ink. You can watch his clip to learn more about her story. Please take the time read her post and comment!

Pancreatic Cancer and Melanoma Connection

For sometime now there has been research showing that people with melanoma are also predisposed to pancreatic cancer. Our daughter, Katie, was diagnosed with melanoma in March of 2004. Her husband had noticed an unusual mole on her back after returning from their honeymoon in Hawaii. He said the mole was not there in Hawaii in November. Her dermatologist thought it was just a mole but after removing and testing, they scheduled her for surgery within 4 days! She underwent surgery and the site of the mole on her back was removed as well as lymph nodes under her arm. She had a scar shaped like a curved capital E on her back .. the curve about 12 inches long, the short line about 4 inches long. Many people do not know the difference between melanoma and basal cell skin cancer. There is a WORLD of difference. One should research the differences. Melanoma moves fast!! We were told that the cancer had not spread and we rejoiced. No one told us there had been research connecting people with melanoma to a predisposition to other types of cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. Melanoma and pancreatic cancer are two of the most deadly cancers. About September 20th of 2006, Katie was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. She was pregnant finally and we had all been so happy for her and her husband... indeed all her family and friends had been so happy and excited. She lost their baby girl on October 11, 2006 and she died November 25, 2006. TWO months... she lived two months following her diagnosis. She was 32 years old. You can read her story at on Care Pages . Her page is listed as "katieshug". You can reverse the posts by her husband to see the sad, quick and deadly progression. But perhaps reading her story will be of help to someone else.

Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer. By the time it is diagnosed, it usually is stage IV.

Below are a few references to the connection between pancreatic cancer and melanoma. There are many more less technical ones to be found by search engines such as google, etc. Some of the articles say it is rare, others say it is quite common. We thought it extremely rare for a 32 year old to have BOTH in less than three years before we started to hear of the connection. I think the connection is more common than even the doctors previously thought.
If you or anyone in your family has had melanoma, please check out this connection now and be aware of it!

Melanoma: Risks, Early Detection and Prevention

Familial malignant melanoma families are characterized by 2 or more affected first-degree relatives (parent, sibling, or child). Affected members in these families may develop more than one primary melanoma and/or pancreatic cancer.

Hereditary Melanoma: prevalence of risk factors in a group of patients in Southern Brazil

Phenotypically, the families and individuals with mutations in CDKN2A may present the condition in various forms: multiple cases of melanoma in the family, multiple primary melanomas in an individual and the presence of melanoma and other neoplasias (especially cancer of the pancreas and tumors of the central nervous system) in the same family. The prevalence of mutations in CDKN2A in the general population is not known.

The Genetics of Pancreatic Cancer

Familial atypical multiple mole melanoma and pancreatic cancer (FAMMM-PC). FAMMM-PC is also known as melanoma-pancreatic cancer syndrome. People with FAMMM-PC have up to a 17% risk of developing pancreatic cancer. FAMMM-PC is associated with mutations in the CDKN2A gene. People who have mutations in the CDKN2A gene also have about a 70% risk of developing melanoma during their lifetime.

The CDKN2A (also called p16 and MST1) gene is a tumor suppressor gene. Genetic testing for mutations in CDKN2A is available, but testing is currently not recommended outside of clinical trials.


Meridith said...

I am so sorry for your loss... but thank you for sharing and increasing awareness... Katie's legacy lives on in your willingness to help others...

Ash said...

Thank you for sharing. It is instances such as this that make me so very angry and, quite frankly, scared.

My father battles basal cell on a constant basis. I fear if/when the news doesn't turn out as well. This information will be passed on.


Denyse said...

What a powerful post! I'm sure lives will be saved because of it.

Kelley with Amy's Angels said...

WOW! I never knew this and now that I am aware, I am checking my moles more frequently than I do now.

oº˚ Homeschool Mom˚ºo said...

My husbands grandpa had skin cancer and his dad had to have a mole removed. My husband has some moles but none of them look funny. Thanks for sharing -- Much Love


Pseudo said...

Great post. Thank-you so much for sharing your story.

Breanne said...

Thanks for sharing - I am so sorry for your loss. I can not imagine how had it is. I reay had no idea about anyhing on the post. Wil keep you in my prayers.

AngiDe said...

Oh my gosh! What a sad sad story!
How brave of her to share their story.
Thank you for bringing the awareness to the front!


BackwoodSophisticate said...

Oh my, my heart goes out to the family of this beautiful young lady. My father passed away from pancreatic cancer and now my step-grandfather is battling it, but the latest news is that it has spread to his liver. I pray that this bit of info may help somebody detect this form of cancer earlier than normal.

Anonymous said...

My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story. You brought tears to my eyes.

MammaDucky said...

That is such a sad sad story. The only bright spot is that perhaps the education this story gave will save someone. Thanks for sharing.

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the.arys said...

Thank you for sharing..I am researching the connection and trying to understand what I can do - my father was recently diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer (stage 3a) and that's when the oncologist mentioned the link between this and melanoma. Both he and I had stage 4 melanomas removed about 20 years ago. Now looking for answers on how I and my siblings can be checked for pancreatic before its too late.

michelle said...

so sorry for your loss, i am shocked as my mum died of melanoma 20 years ago at the age of 41, 6 years ago my sister also had melanoma on her neck she has just been diagnosed again on her leg & needs more of the surrounding area taking away but we never thought that pancreatic cancer was linked until i have just read this my other sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year she was operated on & went through a gruelling 9 months of chemo thank you so much for making me aware x