By Kathy Walsh
(CBS4) – A 46-year-old from Monument is beating the odds. He once feared he had just weeks to live. But five years later, the melanoma that spread to his brain is in remission.
“I feel great, yeah, I feel great, you know, normal as normal whatever normal is,” said Leland Fay.
For Fay normal is good enough. He coaches his kids, hikes the high country, and keeps working despite a devastating diagnosis.
“I had a small bump on my head,” Fay told CBS 4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
Discovered in 2011, it was aggressive melanoma. Part of his scalp and lymph nodes in his neck were removed. Fay had experimental treatment in California, but the cancer spread.
“Stomach, liver and lungs and then, 2 months later, brain,” he said.
In all, 98 tumors were growing in Fay’s brain.
“Typically with three to five is ‘we’re going to send you to hospice and it’s 6 weeks to live’,” Fay said.
But neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Breeze at the University of Colorado Hospital was up for an attack.
“Our first treatment was to use stereotactic radiosurgery,” said Breeze.
That was Gamma Knife treatments at Rocky Mountain Gamma Knife Center. Without any incisions, gamma radiation beams target each tumor.
Fay had 7 hours-long treatments. One tumor was later surgically removed. Fay’s latest brain scan is clean.
“With melanoma it’s hard to ever say that someone’s cancer free,” explained Breeze. “He certainly has beaten the average.”
“Kids are healthy, wife’s healthy, life’s good,” said Fay.
Normal … and for Fay that’s good enough.
In addition, to having Gamma Knife treatment, Fay had surgeries to remove tumors in other places and is on his third immune therapy. He is grateful for the continued advancements in cancer treatments and he gets by on positivity and some prayer.