Olivia "Libby" Kistler
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!