View Full Version : Worried about brother who "was" in remission from melanoma cancer

03-07-2009, 06:05 PM
Hello all,

Firstly, my heart goes out to anyone who is suffering. My younger brother has been in remission from Stage 2 melanoma (he had an eye removed and half of his kidney) and that was 4 years ago. Sadly, we do not communicate as we used to (he married a woman who is not a nice person).

My brother went in for a checkup (his wife's doctor) and this doctor is saying he doesn't like the way my brother's liver looks. Now I am worried as well as my brother. We are scared that the melanoma could have spread to his liver. This doctor has said that my brother's liver is enlarged (he's not a kid and could lose some weight) and there are spots on his liver that "may" not be right (I have no idea what that means).

My brother's wife is not telling us anything and not knowing is very scary for my entire family. All she said is that she has told this doctor NOT to tell my brother anything because he won't be able to handle it.

Doesn't the doctor have to tell my brother? We live in New York and he is seeing a doctor that is part of Lenox Hills Hospital but doesn't specialize in melanoma cancer.

I don't know what to do. I have the doctor's name and on Monday I am going to try to find out this doctor's telephone number and call him myself since my brother's wife is being so mysterious.

I am just plain scared for my brother. Also, doesn't diet play a role in this as well as stress? I know my brother does not eat right and does not take any supplements. I suggested to my mother (who is 83) that she relate to my brother to start a liver detox (something I read about). I guess I am grasping at straws here.

Thanks and feel better everyone,

03-09-2009, 02:46 PM
First, my thoughts to you during this very difficult time. This is a time when family should be able to draw together.

If melanoma metastasizes, there are certain organs it seems to attack over others. Those organs are: brain, lung, and liver. There are others, such as bone, but these three are the ones that seem to get hit the hardest.

A spot on a liver may be nothing at all, or it may be something. Usually, doctors will investigate and test further to see what it is. Because your brother has had stage II melanoma in the past, and because melanoma can metastasize to the liver, I'm sure the doctors want to try to rule this out, if possible. When/if you talk to the doctor, s/he will give you more information regarding this. But, remember, it might not be melanoma.

Typically, most doctors will tell a patient if they have cancer, but they might not tell the patient if it's terminal if that's the wish of the family. If it is melanoma, it would be downright impossible to receive treatment and NOT know what is going on! Perhaps your brother's wife doesn't want your brother to know anything now, in the beginning, so as not to upset him? It's hard to say, but perhaps she is trying to protect him somehow.

You say you are going to try to talk to the doctor today, and I really hope you do. That's the best way to get the real information and know what the next step might be.

I wish you and your brother all the best in this!

03-09-2009, 05:40 PM
Don't be to surprised if the doctor isn't able to tell you much. The privacy laws make it hard to let family know what is going on unless the patient specifically tells the doctor it is OK to release information. In your brother's case since maybe he isn't getting the entire picture he may not have it down to release info to you. Personally I would think most doctors would insist on honesty between them and their patients. Trust in important.
Good luck.

03-10-2009, 04:26 PM
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and advice. My brother's wife is a piece of work and loves to upset everyone (even before my brother got cancer), it's just the way she is.

My brother already had blood work, a cat scan which to my knowledge showed no tumors. I would think that if he had cancer of his liver, there would be tumors? I read that melanoma is known to metastasize to other organs and I'm praying that after 4 years of remission, that it hasn't.

I am concerned about that the doctor said he has an enlarged liver though I have read there can be many causes for an enlarged liver. His eating habits are the worse and as I said, he is overweight.

I did talk to someone from the doctor's office today and she told me that whatever my brother has, the doctor would tell him straight out and not hide it from him. He has an app't to see this doctor this Thursday so I guess I will know more.

If (and I am praying this is not so) there is something wrong, wouldn't the doctor want to take a liver biopsy?

My brother is going to work every day and he said that in the middle of the night he has vomited (that has happened twice in the past months) and that he can't drink alot of water. Yet he can drink coffee.

I am just really scared and my poor Mom is really suffering because right now everything seems so mysterious. This is a guessing game right now and I just can't wait until my brother finds out what he is dealing with. It's a real shame that his wife is playing these games using his health to upset my mother but that is the woman he married and we try not to have much to do with her because she plays too many games yet my brother loves her so it's a sticky situation.

Has anyone had any experience with an enlarged liver? Can diet play a role in that? Sorry that I am rambling, I'm just so scared...


03-11-2009, 03:36 PM
Well, my brother was told that the melanoma has spread to his liver and the doctor said there is nothing he can do except give him something for the pain.

I am in shock right now.


03-12-2009, 12:48 PM
Oh Sunny, I am so sorry about this news! My heart truly goes out to you and your family.

I know you and your family must be in shock right now, but I find it really hard to think your brother's melanoma is this far along. Is there anyway he might look to get a second opinion? MD Anderson in Houston has become THE "go to" source for anything related to cancer in this country. Perhaps your brother could contact them for a consult? I don't know that he would actually have to go to Houston at first - I believe his doctor can send slides and test results first for review.

Also, what about clinical trials? There are usually always a few clinical trials for melanoma that are ongoing throughout the country. Doctors who specialize in melanoma can put your brother in touch with these to find out his eligibility.

I so HATE this blasted beast! I know far too many people who are melanoma warriors, and it still hurts when I hear of another one. Please know I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts, and please keep us updated.

Again, I am so sorry.

03-13-2009, 12:19 PM
Hi Chele60,

Thanks for your kind words, they are much appreciated. I don't know if 6 months is a long time for having the tumors in his liver. My goodness, I really thought he had this licked being 4 years in remission. I did read about the Cancer Center in Texas and I am keeping that in back of my mind for now.

My older brother talked to a couple of friends of his who are survivors thanks to this cancer specialist in Manhattan. So my baby brother has an app't with this specialist next week. I read about him and I like what I read. So I "choose" to be positive right now, sure beats crying and feeling depressed, right?

As far as the 6 months, that was told to him by a regular internist, not a specialist so who really knows? I do know my baby brother has been going for his checkups..

I will keep you updated.

Thanks again for being there,