My Knight Cancer Story: Shon Ramey

Shon RameyI began my seven-year fight against skin cancer in 2007, when I first noticed an itchy mole on my back. I figured it was nothing, but my wife suggested I see a doctor about it. When I eventually relented, the dermatologist revealed a diagnosis I never could have imagined ― melanoma.

I grew up in a small town north of Seattle and, with all those cloudy days, never used sunscreen; in fact, my goal was to get tan as fast as possible whenever the sun did shine. I later spent time living in Texas and the Middle East but never gave much thought to proper skin care.

That diagnosis in 2007 was only the beginning of a long battle with melanoma. I would go on to have three separate surgeries at a hospital in Houston, Texas, where I was living at the time. I moved to Oregon in 2013 but continued seeing a Houston doctor for periodic check-ups and appointments.

It was on one of these trips in early 2014 when I was diagnosed with melanoma for the fourth time. About this time, I learned from a Texas dermatologist about the outstanding dermatology program at OHSU and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, and I was encouraged to meet with a local physician for further treatment.

I first met with Sancy Leachman, M.D., Ph.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s Melanoma Research Program and chair of the OHSU Department of Dermatology, in January 2014. In addition to being impressed by her qualifications was immediately put at ease by her personable demeanor and interest in my case. She was determined to stop my latest melanoma in its tracks.

Shortly thereafter I started a program of chemotherapy  under the direction of Matthew Taylor, M.D.A few months later, I had successful surgery performed by John Vetto, M.D., F.A.C.S. and am happy to report that I’ve been cancer-free ever since.

I understand now more than ever the importance of proper skin care and remaining vigilant about the dangers of melanoma. I wanted to use that newfound knowledge to help others so, in mid-2014, I joined the Melanoma Community Registry, spearheaded by the OHSU Department of Dermatology and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. As a member of the registry, I took part in a patient and research symposium in November 2014, and I have shared my story to encourage others to practice proper skin care.

I continue to be impressed and am awed by the level of personal attention from an organization as large as the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. At every step in the process, everyone on my health care team has explained the process and options, involved me in the conversation and helped me make the best possible decisions concerning my health.  I will be forever grateful to the staff at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute for their level of personal involvement and caring compassion.