Saturday, December 31, 2016

We are different, but all the same

An article was just released today in the Annals of Oncology that looked back at a (relatively) large group of individuals with Mucosal Melanoma (MM). The were attempting to answer the question of how different MM is based on the location of the body it beginnings in. When grouped together, you have sinonasal, reproductive/urinary tract, and gastrointestinal "primaries" (or first tumors). The findings were that they are mostly the same and can, therefore, be reasonably studied as a group. This is good news for research (power in numbers) and not surprising to me. I have been a part of an online group of warriors (and their caregivers) facing MM for the majority of this year. There are many primary sites represented but the experiences, successes and challenges, and questions are largely the same. We are all facing the same, formidable foe.

For me, the news in this article lies in something else that was reported but not much-discussed in the abstract. The survival rates from the study. When I was diagnosed at the beginning of this year, I was given a survival rate of 5% in 5 years, 20% in 2 years. This was less than one year ago. This study, published today, reported survival rates of 20% in 5 years and 60% in 2 years. This is a big difference. You can read the article's abstract here

We have lost many to the fight in just the last few months in our little online warrior pack. I has been very difficult for all of us to witness and to participate in. However, once the fog clears, the losses only make the survivors more powerful. We warrior on. Though its easy to believe the 'beast' that took our friends away has turned its eyes to us as if to say "you're next," we are learning to fight back and we are starting to win. Yes, the tides are turning on MM. The reason this is happening is because of research, awareness, and passion. Passion is often bred by personal loss, and that we have in abundance. The others need funding. We are nearly half-way to our goal for the MM awareness video. Thanks to all of you, we have raised $6,620 toward our $15,000 goal!! I am blown away by your generosity. Today is your last opportunity to give before the end of the year. Please consider giving to our campaign- every little bit helps. You can give here.

I will end with a quote from one of our dear warriors whose life was cut short this Christmas Eve. 

"Where there is life, there is hope" 

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