Metastatic melanoma survivor gives hope to new patients

After doctors successfully removed a melanoma from J.P. Rodriguez’s back in 2006, he resumed his life – working, spending time with family and not thinking much about the disease. But in 2008, J.P. began to experience headaches, weakness and even a blackout. Doctors couldn’t figure out the problem until J.P.’s wife mentioned his cancer history during an ER visit. Knowing melanoma can spread, the doctor ordered an MRI. It showed a growth in J.P.’s brain. The news came as a shock to J.P. “I’d never investigated melanoma or given it much thought. When they said there was no cancer in 2006, I just assumed I was done with cancer,” J.P. says. “When 2008 came around, I didn’t put it together that these could be related.” Choosing MD Anderson for brain tumor treatment After that first metastasis, J.P. underwent a craniotomy at a San Antonio, Texas hospital. The procedure was successful, but the recovery was difficult. While he was recovering, one of his doctors told him about MD Anderson. “He told me that his father went to MD Anderson for cancer treatment and did very well,” J.P. recalls. “My wife became very interested. After the recovery period, we started investigating.” Liking what they read, J.P. made an appointment at MD Anderson. Since J.P. just had surgery to remove metastasis, his doctor at MD Anderson, Nicholas Papadopoulos, M.D. (now retired), didn’t have a growth to treat. Papadopoulos suspected that J.P.’s cancer had turned aggressive, though, and had him undergo an MRI every one to two months — far more frequently than normal. Less than a year after J.P.’s initial metastasis, a...