When I was diagnosed with a stage IIIb melanoma back in April of 2005 it felt like I had received a death sentence. Five years seemed like a lifetime away; and yet here I am approaching my 5-year NED anniversary. I was lucky enough to participate in an clinical vaccine trial at NYU and continue to see Dr. Anna Pavlick each year. This year she and I will celebrate this milestone. I want my story to give other stage III patients hope and inspire them to live life to the fullest. If I had let melanoma take over my life I would have missed five wonderful years; and even though I am still alive, melanoma would have been the ultimate winner. Of course it is only natural to feel hopeless and afraid when first diagnosed and to be afraid from time to time. I believe there is a reason that I have survived the odds so I do everything I can to educate people about melanoma and to stop people from saying, "oh, that's just skin cancer, right?" Thank you MRF for honoring my doctor, Anna Pavlick, with your 2009 Wings of Hope Humanitarian Award. She has been my "wings of hope" for 5-years! Stay informed, vigilant, and positive and do not let melanoma rule your life!
Olivia "Libby" Kistler
Stay informed, vigilant, and positive and do not let melanoma rule your life!
Melanoma Quick Facts
Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers in the U.S. and worldwide. Consider:
- One in 50 Americans has a lifetime risk of developing melanoma
People under 30 are developing melanoma at an alarming rate – the incidence soaring by 50% in young women since 1980
- Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults aged 25-29 & the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults aged 15-29
- In 2009, nearly 63,000 people were diagnosed with melanoma in the U.S., resulting in about 8,650 deaths
- The American Cancer Society projects that nearly 77,000 will be diagnosed and 10,000 will die from melanoma this year
- Every eight minutes, someone in the U.S. will be diagnosed with melanoma
- Every hour of every day, someone will die from the disease