Kelly Bishop was a 20-year-old college student when she noticed a spot on the back of her right thigh that kept getting darker. She went to her dermatologist near her home in Bucyrus, Ohio, who removed it right away. When the results came back, Kelly’s doctor told her she had melanoma — a type of skin cancer — and referred her to the OSUCCC – James.
Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer. It can spread to other parts of the body, especially if not discovered and treated early. “The cancer cells were so far down that they had to remove some more,” said Kelly. Surgeons at the OSUCCC – James also found evidence of the cancer in lymph nodes near the melanoma and removed those nodes. By the next surgery, Kelly’s nodes were free of cancer cells.
Because melanoma cells had shown up in her lymph nodes, the risks of the cancer spreading to other areas of her body increased. So Kelly’s oncologist, Kari Kendra, MD, recommended immunotherapy after treatment.
Kelly was treated with interferon to interrupt the growth of cancerous cells. Her initial treatment involved coming to the OSUCCC - James five days a week for four weeks. She and her mother made the 90-minute drive each way back and forth daily, sometimes staying overnight in Columbus with friends.
Kelly still was living at home, and her parents and an aunt helped her tremendously while she recovered from surgery and underwent treatment.
Kelly continued her schooling while in treatment and graduated with a master’s degree in speech therapy from Ohio University in Athens. She credits Dr. Kendra and staff for her ability to stay in college through her cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“When I was about to begin treatment, they gave me the name and number of someone else about my age who had been through it,” she said. “That really helped motivate me to stay in school.”
The staff at the OSUCCC – James, who have seen Kelly frequently over the years, have told her how much they’ve enjoyed “watching her grow up,” she said. They’ve been with her as a college student and have seen her graduate twice and now start her career.
“Dr. Kendra and her staff are like family to me now,” she said. She appreciates the information and education she received throughout her treatment. “The OSUCCC – James is a great place.”