2016 A Year in Review!
I am excited to say I am still NED (No Evidence of Disease) and I have stopped all treatments.
I was also told I can wait a year until my next CT Scan.
I can finally stop glowing from all that radiation. Mike the watch dog is not too keen on stretching out the CT Scans to a year, but, hey, I’m done with the cancer!
It has been seven years -- kind of amazing as I reflect on our journey and the experience. What did I learn from this experience? That what goes around comes around in life.
Remember my first doctor from MSK? You know, the one who told me to go home and enjoy the holiday’s because it would probably be my last Christmas. You remember that guy from one of my first posts.
Well, I saw him in NY this October at the MRF’s 25th Anniversary Wings of Hope Celebration. I thought to myself I am not only alive, asshole, but I’m now on the Board of Directors for the Melanoma Research Foundation.
He did not see that one coming – LOL!
If this was a screenplay, I would have ended the story at that moment.
I have now gone full circle…..remember, the world is so much smaller than we think.
It is fun to see these doctors who were so negative respond in amazement. I hope in the coming years they’ll encourage patients to try and understand that in the darkest of situations there is always a light.
Pass that one forward.
That night did play out brilliantly. We honored Jimmy Carter, the new spokesman for MRF, and raised $1 million for research.
Diane Ashby, you would have been proud. Diane founded MRF in 1996. Diane was a melanoma patient who grew increasingly frustrated with the lack of effective medical treatments and started a solution. She passed away just 8 months after founding the MRF. But we continue to carry her torch.
From 2009 – 2015 we saw a series of new drugs come to market and in 2016 we moved to the one / two punch series. This is taking these new drugs such as; IMLYGIC; INTRON A; KEYTRUDA; OPDIVO; YERVOY; PROLEUKIN; IL-2 ; SYLATRON and combining them to see if they can kill the monster under rapid fire. This is not for sissies because these side effects are unknown and are the next exploration in treatment options to come. Enter with caution but this is the new frontier in drug discovery.
I am so fortunate that cancer research has allowed me to see my son grow into this amazing young man who is now in college at the University of Alabama. Mike and I got to take Sergei to Greece this summer with our dear friends Kim and Jim, who watched Sergei during most of our time at UCLA. We are so blessed to be where we are today because of cancer research. Mike and I will continue to educate, advocate and raise money for melanoma research.
In November, I also became one of the few private citizens, other than the less than 1% of all Navy military, to land on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. It was “off the tail-hook” cool -- the carrier survived and no one was hurt during my 24 hours aboard the ship. Taking off by catapult from the flight deck was even more of a rush. I was selected as a distinguished guest of the USS George Washington, a Nimitz Class aircraft carrier. I received my Tail Hook patch and a certificate. Pretty amazing experience.
If you’re considering this as a bucket list item, do it before 2018 – they will be transitioning from the C-2 Grayhound aircraft to a helicopter to transport guests on and off the ship.
Yep, I am one lucky girl, and I know it!
In 2017 I will begin telling my story to the construction industry in hopes of inspiring and educating contractors out in the field to use sun protection.
The most important lesson I have learned from my experience is in times of crisis, keep looking forward, be creative, and you will find a way!
A special Thank You to my mom, dad, mama Katie my brother Victor and the rest of my family and friends who stood by us along the way you know it was not an easy journey.
Happy New Year!
Don’t forget to make it a great day on purpose,