Melanoma Patient Profile
What does a melanoma patient look like? She looks like Diane, who posts on MPIP.org as “Dian in Spokane.” Diane was first diagnosed years ago, and fought her melanoma with a vengeance. She lived disease free for years, but has since had an recurrence. But melanoma is what Diane has, it is not what she is.
Seems like every step of Diane’s journey she breaks the mold. Diane is a musician who plays Old Fashioned music (think a precursor to bluegrass). She lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest and travels from show to show, hanging out with other folks tied to the music of a by-gone age. And get this—her husband recently opened up an old storage trunk and showed Diane the original program book from when he attended Woodstock!
What is the face of a melanoma patient? He looks like Tom, who is an insurance executive. In many ways he, too, broke the mold. He had a mole on his back that was pink, round, not elevated, consistent in color, and with smooth border. In other words he passed his ABDCE’s. But it itched, so he decided to have it looked at. Now he is Stage III melanoma. But that’s not all he is. He is a Washington insider, working with members of Congress on healthcare issues. He is married, has children, friends, and an active life.
The melanoma patient is a teenage girl looking forward to her first year of high school. An octogenarian living in quiet retirement in the mountains. A CEO running a family business. A Barbie Doll collector. A lifeguard. A golf pro. A self-proclaimed redneck, living in Florida and fretting about his prostate.
These are real men and real women who refuse to be defined by their cancer, choosing rather to fight it with every ounce of their courage and hope. And all the while, they live their lives. Playing music. Running a business. Sharing laughter. And tears.
The Melanoma Research Foundation is about research, education, and advocacy. All the work we do in these three areas is designed to help people affected by melanoma live longer and better. To live their lives, not their cancer experience. After all, I suspect Diane—and Tom, and everyone else—has a few more songs she would like to play.