By Hilary Rogers
In this guest post, Hilary Rogers, a member of the Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma Steering Committee, shares her perspective on her mom’s battle with melanoma.
In the winter of 2012, my family and I found out that our mother’s stage 3 melanoma diagnosis had progressed to her lungs. Even though this was not that long ago, the treatments available at the time only promised to delay the inevitable by a few years at most. On the tails of a wonderful
Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was heartbreaking to imagine it being one of the last holiday seasons that my mother, father, brother, sister and I would all spend together as a family. While I am sure that our parents shared the same fears that my siblings and I did, they were determined to not let melanoma interrupt our family’s future holidays together. They remained positive and researched various clinical trials, and we were thrilled when our mother was admitted into a trial for the new and promising immunotherapy drug, nivolumab.
After only a few months of receiving the treatment, the tumors on our mother’s lungs began to shrink. We were ecstatic when her doctor reported that the tumors were no longer there in the fall of 2014. It has been over a year since we received the incredible news, and we are happy to report that our mom is as healthy as ever.
Through good times and bad over the last three years, our mom continues to be the first one up on Christmas morning as she always has been. Rather than eclipse our family holidays, her fight has brought our family and friends even closer together.
When the FDA approved several of the immunotherapy drugs last year, my family and I were thrilled for the thousands of melanoma patients whose lives were about to potentially change by having access to these groundbreaking drugs. My family and I are extremely grateful for the work and dedication that go into the research, funding and development of these innovative drugs that have changed the medical landscape, and most importantly, the lives of those affected by melanoma.
What we’ve gone through has brought new awareness to my family and everyone we know. I can’t get into my brother’s car without seeing his SPF 70 sunscreen handy in the center console. My sister and I go to the dermatologist regularly for skin checks. This year we’re even taking a family trip for New Year’s to foggy London rather than some warm beach as we have done in the past.
Most importantly, we as a family understand the risks of this disease, but also the hope that lies in today’s new treatments. It has been our goal and pleasure to spread this awareness to people and families going through what we went through so that their holidays may continue to be happy too.
We would like to thank MRA as well as the researchers, doctors and –above all else – the patients who have enrolled in these groundbreaking trials. Your hard work, dedication and bravery have made it possible for our family as well as countless others to look forward to enjoying many more joyful holidays together in the years to come. For that, we are eternally grateful.