Letter from the Chairman
Nine years ago I was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma. As many of you know all too well, this diagnosis turned my life – and my family’s lives – upside down. Given only months to live, I was stunned by the few choices that existed. I thought, “How can there be only one option for beating the fastest growing cancer in the world?” I tried surgery, chemotherapies, chemo embolization, all with no lasting success. This left only Interleukin-2 (IL-2), a notoriously difficult treatment protocol. After months of intense immunotherapy, I was pronounced cancer-free. I’m one of the lucky ones. Only about 5-10% of people treated with IL-2 respond that completely. I was given a second chance and I am honored to work closely with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) to help give others their second chance.
We start 2013 with one of the most exciting and unique programs in the medical non-profit community. The MRF Breakthrough Consortium is a new entity whose function is to bring together new drugs, in new combinations, into clinical trials at leading institutions throughout the country. These trials would not have occurred without this novel organization. I would first like to express my thanks and gratitude to our former Chairman, now Chairman Emeritus, and the Chairman of the Consortium, Randy Lomax. Secondly, I’d like to thank the team of doctors and scientists, including, Keith Flaherty, Alison Martin, Meenhard Herlyn, Lynn Schuchter, and the many others involved, for their vision, leadership and tireless effort to make this Consortium a reality.
2013 will be an exciting year as the MRF, under the guidance of our Executive Director, Tim Turnham, will continue to grow and enhance our core mission. We will be expanding a number of our programs – patient education, research grants and advocacy efforts – in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country.
Our Board of Directors is engaged and energized as we expand our efforts to conquer this disease. A newly revised strategic plan has been adopted reflecting our increasing involvement in melanoma, including awareness and prevention efforts, as well as a focus on ocular melanoma.
I am most appreciative of and look forward to working with our many grassroots fundraising groups throughout the country. These groups are the backbone of the MRF. Their tireless efforts, often on behalf of a loved one, keep us focused on the goal of beating this cancer and add great meaning to the work in which we are all engaged.
Like many of you, I start 2013 with a sense of new beginnings. I retired after 34 years of running a company, and my wife and I are now watching our two daughters launch their careers. Research and support made the difference in my life. Without them I would not have made it, would not have seen my daughters graduate from high school, and then college. Gratitude for this gift drives me in my volunteer work with the MRF and inspires me to do all that I can to ensure others have this same benefit.
As the new Chairman of the Board at the MRF I am particularly excited about what this year has in store for the melanoma community. Together, we can have a significant impact. I look forward to sharing this groundbreaking year with you, and hope that you will join me, the MRF and the rest of the melanoma community as we continue pushing toward a cure.
Chairman, Board of Directors
Melanoma Research Foundation