Believe it or not, I am fortunate. Eight years (2013) after being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, a stage IV cancer, I’m still alive and still battling.
I use my good fortune to help others whom, like me, have been saddled with this dreadful diagnosis. An advocate for skin cancer prevention and melanoma research, I volunteer with non-profit organizations by fundraising, lending my voice through personal testimonials and op-ed columns, mentoring other late-stage melanoma patients, engaging congressional staffers on the merits of upcoming appropriation bills (to fund more research), and, finally, by analyzing research proposals as a patient member of scientific review panels.
With good fortune comes greater responsibility. Here are links and examples of my advocacy:
An active voice in the fight against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, I work as a “consumer reviewer” on several research panels. In August 2021, I was recognized for my work with the Melanoma Research Program (MRP), which is part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).
You can find my profile and articles online here:
Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) — An active voice in the fight against….
Sharing My Journey
Sharing my journey story is both cathartic and purposeful. Those of us who are still in this fight remember all those who were less fortunate. Our grief and frustration are channeled into meaningful causes and activities. Ultimately, we want to change current behaviors, raise awareness, and stem the tide of suffering and pain.
Periodically, I’ll receive a private message from people—many of them patients just like me—who simply want to connect, and to let me know they take comfort in my words. People, who, as a result of reaching out, remind me that we’re all part of something bigger; much bigger than ourselves.
Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing—In 2019, my journey story was featured on Coolibar’s Skin Diaries blog. http://blog.coolibar.com/25-year-battle-with-melanoma-leaves-warrior-fortunate/
Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA)—Also in 2019, my journey was one of the Melanoma Stories written for the MRA’s website.
AIM at Melanoma—In November 2020, I shared my updated journey on AIM’s Survivor Stories web page.
In 2021, my cancer care center (West Cancer Center & Research Institute) profiled me as part of their series on cancer survivorship. June is National Cancer Survivor month. Here’s my profile story: