Please support my fundraising efforts for the Melanoma Research Foundation!
Melanoma is the deadliest and fastest growing form of skin cancer with approximately 1 person in the US dying from melanoma per hour. But there is hope.
My melanoma story is one of the possibilities of the research we are supporting.
In February of this year I noticed an enlarged lymph node on my neck. I thought it was due to some infection from my constant work travel. I named it Fred for a reason I still do not know today. Fred persisted and I joked it was a lipoma and I was going to go on Dr. Pimple Popper to get it removed.
I made, and cancelled, doctor appointments for a bit. After finally making it to my primary care doctor then immediately sent me for a CT. This led to a needle biopsy of a Fred.
I went back to traveling for work. I bugged the doctor’s office for the results. I just couldn’t wait for that appointment I scheduled weeks later when I was home on a weekday. I poked that bear over and over. I got my diagnosis of Melanoma over the phone.
WAIT - Melanoma? Isn’t that a skin cancer? I wasn't prepared for that. If it was in my lymph node hasn’t it metastasized? What kind of hell was I in for?
Luckily scans showed it was nowhere else. I was one of those oddballs whose primary melanoma was never found. Not on my scalp, body, eyes, mouth – just residing in Fred making me Stage 3B. I thought I was dead. Then I spoke with Dr. Michael Lowe at Emory Winship and he set me straight. The treatment of melanoma has advanced rapidly in the past few years and I did not have an expiration date stamped on me just because of Fred.
I entered a neoadjuvant clinical trial Dr. Lowe and Dr. Ragini Kudchadkar. Fred shrunk dramatically. When Dr. Lowe performed a modified neck dissection 3 months after my diagnosis there was a complete pathological response. The best we could hope for, the melanoma was gone. A month later scans showed I was NED - no eidence of disease. 4 months from diagnosis to NED. Amazing.
This is the gift melanoma research, Dr. Kudchadkar and Dr. Lowe gave me and my family. Even though the word ‘cure’ is not used with melanoma, yet, the hard working melanoma medical community is getting us closer. And I hope my participation in a clinical trial played some small role in helping others.
It wasn’t without a price. I lost some pituitary function and have secondary adrenal insufficiency and hypothyroidism. Those are under control, still thanks to Emory University hospital. And I am on a course of standard of care immunotherapy for several months. But I am doing well. I am going to walk this 5K with joy.
This is why we need research money. We need many more success stories. Why does immunotherapy work for some and not others? Why do serious side effects plague some of us and how do we prevent them? For the 50% of us who are BRAF wild type, are there other targets that can be used to treat us? We need to be able to use the word CURE.
Help us raise the funds to support the work getting us to a CURE.
Thank you for your support. Don’t forget your regular skin checks, to seek shade and use sunscreen and UPF clothing.
Step up and donate to Miles for Melanoma today. THANK YOU
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