LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Tom Carrington is a man who prides himself on being self sufficent and strong. But, when small lumps started forming under his arms last year, he knew that he needed a doctor's opinion.
"The doctor called me and said I've got these biopsy results back," said Carrington. "You need to come by. I need to talk to you about this. When the doctor says that, it's usually not a good thing."
Carrington's doctor diagnosed him with metastatic malignant melanoma. The cancer cells had spread to the lymph nodes under his arms and created tumors.
"I knew that would stage four melanoma, the five year survivability is 15 to 20 percent," said Carrington.
He was immediately sent for treatment at the MD Andersen cancer center in Houston to kick the cancer that was slowly changing his life.
"As these tumors grew under my arms, they began to press against nerves, and so I lost some range of motion," said Carrington. "And developed pain in my arms when I would use them or try to life heavy things."
Carrington found himself struggling with the limits of his body.
"We men, we men are strong, we don't need anybody's help," said Carrington. "But, something like this will make you realize that, yeah, you're not as strong as you thought you were, and, yes, you do need somebodies help."
Carrington then found out that he qualified for clinical trials for a new drug, called nivolumab, that was used instead of chemotherapy.
"Called immunotherapy and it's kind of a new frontier for cancer treatment," said Carrington. "Immunothereapy, where we train the bodies immune system to recognize cancer cells and attack them."
Carrington did twenty four weeks of the therapy. In December of 2016 he went in for what would be a five and half hour long surgery to get rid of the tumors. But, it would pay off in the end.
"The doctor said you're clear there's no more cancer," said Carrington. "It's not showing up. We don't see anything. You're good to go."
Carrington said that the experience changed him in more ways than one.
"It greatly effects your outlook on life and your priorities in life," said Carrington. "Both of those things changed significantly. Things that we valued that we thought were real important in our lives, suddenly become not so important."
Carrington has now been cancer free for almost a year now. He advises everyone to be aware of strange bumps on your body and to get them checked out as soon as possible. It could just save your life.