Changing the Melanoma Message

Changing The Melanoma Message

After 15 years of dedication to our mission we are still vibrant.  It is you, our supporters, who have kept us thriving.  I was a melanoma patient a long time ago, while pregnant with my son. I had a two year old daughter as well.  I was fortunate to find an excellent support medical team at the University of Pennsylvania, who swapped the dire prognosis I received in the burbs and at another leading institution for a positive outlook.  My melanoma was deep enough to warrant a sentinel node biopsy (not invented) and extensive surgery with a skin graft.   Long story short, there was no internet but still plenty of misinformation.  I needed to change the melanoma message.

So I began writing about melanoma with my oncologist, DuPont Guerry who was the head of the program at PENN.  He took me along to many melanoma professional meetings and was a mentor, dispelling the myths, and bringing a positive message to the public you could trust.  He was an excellent co-author of our two books.  We revised our melanoma book a few times and then I revised it in 2015.  (another revision is coming soon!)

Patients came to us for answers and support.  There wasn’t a melanoma program dedicated only to patients and their journey.  In a nutshell, Melanoma International Foundation was born.  We now help about 10,000 patients a year from 17 nations.  We discuss pathology, the first step in the diagnosis and prognosis. MIF supports research by explaining clinical trials and properly matching folks who wish to enroll. Without patients there is no research! We help with understanding the different therapies and side effects.  MIF provides personalized support, without outsourcing this assistance.  If only I had that during that during my ordeal.

Fifteen years later, April 22nd 2018, we are again presenting the largest melanoma gathering in the world!  Our yearly free screening, professionally directed by dermatologist and legislative leader Dr. Bruce Brod, will again be providing a vitally needed service to the community. This year we also have Mike Schmidt, our hometown’s baseball hall of fame star, joining us to open the event.  Mike Schmidt has walked in our shoes and shares the mission to give melanoma the awareness it deserves.  This disease can rock your foundation and makes you realize how precious life is. We are here for melanoma patients, loved ones and caregivers to provide optimal care and reassurance during what may be the scariest time of your life as it was for me.  Thank you to all, including our wonderful scientific board and advisory board who support us to continue our mission.  Join us in the celebration Safe from the Sun 2018!

2 responses to “Changing the Melanoma Message”

  1. Avatar Marsha Hensley says:

    Bless you Catherine for dedicating your life to helping others who are walking a difficult path. Melanoma is the monster who took my best friend, my partner in this life, the love of our family …. my husband. Please keep helping others to not have to live a life that is directed by what is on that next piece of paper in your oncologist’s hand. Bless you !

  2. Avatar Marsha Hensley says:

    Thank you for your response. I am so sorry that you are on a similar journey. My prayers are with you. I am a nurse and sometimes it seems unfair that we as advocates who have helped so many have to experience such loss, but we are strong and we will continue to live ❤️

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