Stories of Survival
I wanted to share stories of survival that we have found to be inspirational. If you have melanoma, you know the survival stats and they range from being excellent to devastating …as noted on the other page – “Stories of Devastation“. I personally know a number of people with inspirational Stage 3/4 survival stories. One of them is my Italian neighbor (he doesn’t have a blog) who was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma 5 years ago after presenting with swollen lymph nodes in his neck. They never found the primary mole/tumor. He hasn’t done a single chemo drug to treat the melanoma… but he swears by eating tons of garlic! He is alive and well and as healthy as can be.
At what point do you become a survivor? The minute you are diagnosed.
Many people continue to thrive with melanoma and here are some of their stories:
SURVIVORS OF STAGE IV MELANOMA
The young father that founded WAM (War Against Melanoma) had brain and lung tumors at the age of 31 and underwent high dose Interleukin 2 with radiation. After surgery, he has been NED since 2006.
http://collabrx.com/ourstory.php – Marty Tenenbaum is a 10+ year survivor of Stage IV melanoma. He started a company that offers “personalized oncology” and genetic testing. It is a very expensive right now, but I hope some day this will be available for every patient with cancer – this is the future of oncology.
http://melanomamissionary.blogspot.com/ Jimmy B is a long time Stage IV survivor – and such a great resource for research
http://cancerguide.org/kshapiro_story.html – Stage IV survivor – his last update to the page was in 2008
http://www.cpmc.org/services/cancer/erick_davis_il2.html – Stage IV Biochemo patient from San Francisco. We met Erick at the MRF gala in San Francisco in May 2011. He is such a nice guy and credits Dr David Minor with saving his life.
http://www.cpmc.org/about/e-health/2008/q2-kariworthfiveyearcelebration.html - Stage IV survivor Kari Worth also did biochemo in San Francisco with Dr Minor. She is such a lovely lady – we met her at the MRF Wings of Hope Gala in May 2011.
http://carverblog.blogspot.com/search/label/melanoma%20and%20more - You can chat with Carver on the Melanoma Research Foundation forum (where there are many more survivors)
BLOGS OF MELANOMA WARRIORS
http://strongenough-christina.blogspot.com/ Christina McEvoy. We met Christina at a Melanoma conference in San Francisco when she was Stage IIIb in May 2010. By July, she had moved to Stage IV with lung mets. Devastating news. She is a young, fit, mother of 2 adorable little boys. She had a mole removed 2 years ago and 2 years later she is Stage IV. That’s how melanoma rolls. She is super resourceful and responding very well to biochemo right now – one of the toughest chemo regimes out there. She uses acupuncture, hypnotherapy, exercise, diet, and faith to keep her stress levels down. Update: Christina just started Yervoy and is doing well. I know she will be a “complete responder”.
http://melanomagirl.com/ - Andrea is a stage IIIa survivor who has created a great melanoma brand “Melanoma Girl”. Check out her cool “Proud to be Pale” tshirts and fun events to support the cause. She is working on her non-profit status and I hope to do some co-sponsored events with her. Update May 2011: We were so shocked that Andrea was just diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer after a recent scan. She has started treatment and we hope that it knock out both of her cancers. Through all of this she continues to be suck a charming, lovely, funny beautiful woman.
http://iloveyoumorethanmost.blogspot.com/ - NEW: http://littlestwarriorspot.com/ Danielle is the mother of 6 year old with Melanoma – and such a great writer. She has actually created a blog for young children with melanoma – called the Littlest Warrior Spot.
http://kerpie.blogspot.com/ (Kerri is a Stage IIIa melanoma survivor and just celebrated clear scans)
http://missmelanoma.blogspot.com/ (Stage III – young lady with melanoma)
http://hotelmelanoma.blogspot.com/ Rich is a Stage 3C melanoma survivor since 2003. He comes up with some great Melanoma songs..like the Hotel Melanoma (sung to the tune of the Eagles’ Hotel California)
http://williamfightingcancer.blogspot.com/ William is Mike’s age (44) and was diagnosed with Stage 4 in 2011 after being diagnosed Stage 2 – 10 years prior. He is doing an amazing procedure called TIL/Adoptive Cell Therapy at MD Anderson. TIL (tumor infiltrating lymphocytes) is a treatment where your immune system is first destroyed with chemo (in the hospital) and then your own harvested TIL cells are put back into you to create a new and improved immune system… one that knows it should attack melanoma. It has a response rate in the 50% range but very few are selected to do it (William was only the 46th person to have it done at MD Anderson).
Melanoma Mom – A young mother with Stage IV melanoma – she is starting TIL treatment (like William above). She was diagnosed shortly after her baby was born. I cant imagine being a new mother and having a cancer diagnosis – my heart goes out to her.
THERE ARE MANY MORE…
If you have been diagnosed, visit the melanoma online forums below. Not only will they help you with emotional support and questions – all of the people there are in the same boat and they are so helpful and wonderful! And I think they know more about melanoma than some doctors.