It was one year ago that I sat down to write my fundraising campaign for this very same event. I had decided to run the Carlsbad Half Marathon in honor of my 22 year old step-son, Andrew, who was battling Melanoma. At the time, our hopes were high. You see, Andrew, had just started a revolutionary treatment for melanoma. This treatment had the potential to increase life expectancy in stage IV melanoma patients from less than a year to possibly 5 years. Please let that soak in…we were not expecting a cure. We were only hoping to keep Andrew with us for a little longer. And then, maybe over time, a new drug would come out that could have the same life-extending capability. Yes, it was a time filled with such hope.
Well, as most of you do know, our precious son lost his battle 6 months later on June 15, 2011. But boy did he put up one courageous fight. As parents, we could not be more proud of this wonderful young man who fought so hard to be brave and face this disease head on.
So now one year later I sit down to write this letter again. This time I am filled with a different kind of hope. It is my hope that through research, education, and advocacy, we can help others become more aware of the risks of melanoma, advocate for the changes that will reduce risk, and promote early detection. This is what the Melanoma Research Foundation is all about.
What is amazing to me is how many times I have shared Andrew’s story to get the same response: Really, skin cancer? Why, he was so young? I thought that was something old people got? Couldn’t they just cut it out?
It is these comments that fuel a passion in me to do what I can to elevate the awareness around this dreadful disease. Although it’s hard to talk about, may I never miss an opportunity to share what Andrew and our family have gone through so that maybe we can prevent even one person from hearing the words, “You have melanoma”.
My message to you today is this: KNOW YOUR SKIN. Always apply your sunscreen but please don't have a false sense of security that sunscreen is enough. You can get melanoma on your heel or even in your eye - in places that never have expsore to the sun. That is why it is equally, if not more important, to pay very close attention to your skin. Look for new spots or changes to old ones and act upon it immediately.
Within the past year, there have been two new drugs added to the aresenal against melanoma - "a fantastic breakthrough that was helped along by researchers and doctors funded by and involved with the Melaoma Research Foundation". The two new drugs approved this year are proof that new and better ways of attacking this cancer are possible.
Today I come to you asking for your financial support. If you would like to make a donation to the Melanoma Research Foundation, you can do so by clicking on the DONATE button below. Any amount is greatly appreciated.
On January 22, 2012, I will once again run the Carlbad Half Marathon in honor of Andrew's journey. I know Andrew will be with me every step of the way. And as I cross the finish line I will look up to the heaven's and say, This one is for you, my dear sweet Andrew!
Thank you to all our family and friends for your love, friendship, and support.