Stage 4 Melanoma

In April 2013, Larry was told to get his affairs in order. He was given six months to live as a result of a massive tumor discovered in the lymph node under his right arm with a Stage 4 Melanoma diagnosis. Somehow, something on his skin turned into a deadly, horrible mess that spread throughout his body, affecting eight of his organs. He was told it was inoperable. Funny thing, he was never told he had skin cancer before.

Next came the drugs, and a new chemo cocktail in a clinical trial he was able to take part in.


It was horrible to endure, but the tumor shrunk. So much so, he was able to have surgery after all to remove the mass. But the doctors weren’t about to open him up and operate on his adrenals, liver, lungs and other lymph nodes and his leg.

Larry was my college boyfriend.  We had a love-hate relationship back then.  Somehow, we ended up in the same leadership program in our early 30’s.  We had a love-hate relationship then too.

For most people a diagnosis like this is life altering, and rightly so. Cancer is one of the most devastating diseases our society has encountered. It affects people of all races, religions, genders and ages. Some people are fortunate to discover the disease in early stages and become a survivor. Others succumb quickly as their cancer may be a more fast-moving variety.

Larry chose to just live. Just the way he always had – enjoying life to the fullest.

I asked him, what if anything changed when he got his diagnosis.


He has always lived life to the max. He still has an active law practice. Facebook is full of his travels and escapades. From Europe to India to the Kentucky Derby, he is always on the go, travelling and exploring. A big history buff, museums are most always on his agenda.  He favorite two destinations – NYC to see his daughter Staci and her husband and Seattle to see his son Brandon.

He says he has no reason to be negative. He never has. His latest scans and markers show no change. There are still indications of cancer on his organs, they show on the scans but they appear to be unchanged. They aren’t growing. They are just there.

He did admit he lives in never, never land. But not the Peter Pan version. More the “unsure of what is next” land.

Fast forward 20 months from his diagnosis and we are having lunch. This is our second lunch date, the first a couple months ago. We catch up on our kids and our lives.

He had married, had a couple kids, divorced, married, divorced.  I married, divorced, married, had a child. All these years later we are comfortable with each other and the conversation flows easily.

He said his kids, now 28 and 25 are handling his diagnosis well.  Brandon stayed with him for two months while he went through the worst of the chemo effects, which for him was mostly shivers and weakness. Amazingly, Larry never lost his appetite or vomited nor made any dietary changes.  Six weeks later, although still weak, he booked a trip to Pompeii.

Any regrets? Anything on your bucket list?

No bucket list he said. I have always done everything to the maximum. Every day is a wonderful day. He said he is happy.

He is thankful above all. His kids are handling his diagnosis well. They are mature, straightforward and supportive.

I asked him if his positive outlook and zest for life was a factor in how great he is doing. The internet is full of how to cure anything by being upbeat and positive stories. Larry says he has no cosmic knowledge that lends his thinking to that theory. His scans indicate he is “better” but he will just continue to live his life every day, the same full out way he always has. “Live and let live” he says. “Live and let live.”

Barbara Abramson

View posts by Barbara Abramson
Barb works with corporations, schools, senior centers, and community organizations to help people connect more deeply to themselves, to each other, and to the opportunities in their lives. Her workshops are geared to help people find strengths in their commonalities, sparking meaningful connections and kindling relationships. She's all about increasing happiness and profitability, and decreasing bullying and depression, helping friendships evolve, partnerships develop, and aha moments occur. Connect with Barabara on twitter @BarbAbramson or read more from her at:
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