Thursday, May 23, 2013

Advances in the treatment of melanoma

The landscape for melanoma treatments is rapidly changing.  From even 3 years ago when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 disease, there was really only one treatment FDA approved for Stage 4.  A year later, there were 2 more treatments approved (Yervoy and Zelboraf), and now another two are soon to be approved.
"The new findings in immunotherapy for advanced melanoma were presented at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting. While the results are encouraging, the studies are still in early stages. 
Researchers from cancer centers around the world tested an anti-PD-1 drug calle Lambrolizumab in 135 patients with advanced melanoma.  In more than a third of the patients, 38%, the melanoma shrank significantly in response to the drug and in many others the disease stopped growing.  On average, it took longer than 7 months for the cancer to get worse in patients taking Lambrolizumab. 
Also at the ASCO meeting, researchers presented longer-term data about another anti-PD-1 drug: Nivolumab.  It was tested in 107 people with advanced melanoma.  The new results showed that overall, about one-third of patients responded to treatment with the drug.  This confirms earlier results of the study that began about a year ago."
To read more, go here.
This is so exciting and so hopeful!  I know that even if we don't find a "cure" to this disease, we are finding better methods to manage it, and not only that methods that are less toxic to the body.  Let's hope we continue on this trend.  I have a feeling it will!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

MRF Gala 2013

I attended my second MRF (Melanoma Research Foundation) gala in SF.  It's a wonderful event and raises a lot of money for MRF, which in turn goes to funding research grants and education.  MRF asked me to present the awards to the Courage recipients this year (last year I was one), which was a true honor and priviledge!  All of them were fantastic and truly embody the word, "survivor".

Such a beautiful venue.  Love the tall ceilings and pillars.

My dear friend, Tina Rosenthal, who I admire so much.  She was instrumental for me before and during my treatments in the hospital.  She prepared me well with what to expect from treatments, sent me books and literature to read, and even came to visit me in the hospital several times.  I just adore her to pieces.  Her and I think a lot alike!  Wish we lived closer.

Dr. Minor with myself, Tina, and Sue, all Stage 4 melanoma survivors and patients of this brilliant and wonderful doctor.  He is a big reason we are all still alive!

Some other melanoma survivors and warriors, Kristina (far left), and Aine (far right).  This was my first time meeting Kristina (Stage 3) in person and I was so happy to meet her!  She is simply amazing in every way and a true fighter!  Aine is a young girl (Stage 4) who was at the gala last year when I attended.  I was very relieved to see her doing well and responding to treatment!

The day after the gala, I had my routine scans and treatment.  I was grateful for the distraction of the gala the night before to keep me from getting nervous the next day.  Fortunately, I received good results and am able to continue forward with good health and remission.  God is good!!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Not Worth Dying For

This article is worth reading.  Have you ever wondered why more and more young people, especially young women are getting melanoma??  In this article lies your answer.
 I know I certainly fit the mold in my younger years.  I was in the sun constantly in the summers, often working in the sun (lifeguarding and teaching swimming), but I also spent a fair amount laying out by the pool to keep my tan and while in my early 20's, sometimes used tanning beds to achieve that glow!  Little did I know back then, that all that damage from UV light catch up to me and land me a melanoma diagnosis.
Hindsight vision is always 20/20.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Love hearing good news!

Can I just say that I rejoice for other's successes just as much as my own?!  I love it when I hear that my melanoma friends are having success with treatments!  It is just as much of a celebration for them as it is for me because it means that we are winning the battle against melanoma!
Take for instance, my friend, Kari, who has been fighting melanoma on and off for 10 years.  She has been doing a clinical trial in L.A. of the Anti-PD1 drug and just found out last month that she is in remission again!  I couldn't be happier for her and her family.  She is my hero and if anyone can beat melanoma, it is Kari.  She has such a winning, never-give-up spirit.
Then there is my friend, Alisa.  She has had some major bumps in the road the last few months to get accepted into a clinical trial (same one as Kari), but finally did and will be starting treatment in 2 weeks!  Alisa had major success with Yervoy, which is a drug similar to Anti-PD1.  I just know this drug will work for Alisa too.  Alisa is already a walking miracle and I know that she will continue to be!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do you know your city's UV Index?

This is a website that everyone should save on their favorites and onto their phones!
Do you know what your city's UV index?  The UV index is a measure of how strong the sun's rays are, or how quickly you can burn.
Go here to find your UV index and remember, if the UV index is high on any particular day, avoid long exposure in the sun and always, ALWAYS cover-up!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Skin Check that could save your life!

This article done by Glamour Magazine recently talks about how you can spot a melanoma or suspicious mole that could save your life!
Read here for more info.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Melanoma month kicks off

Ok, I'm going to try really HARD to post every few days this month.  After all, it is MELANOMA MONTH!
First off, did you know that the first Monday of the May is officially called and recognized as "Melanoma Monday"??  Wear black on May 6th to support melanoma awareness!

And also, when was the last time you got your skin checked by a dermatologist? The Skin Cancer Foundation is promoting a Healthy Skin Tour, in which they will stop at several cities and perform free skin checks! To see if one is being offered in your city, click here.

Now, go get your skin checked!  It could save your life!