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Advocating Through Research Review Processes

Guest blog post by Kristin R. McJunkins, Stage III melanoma survivor and advocate:

In 2008 when I was 38 years old, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIa cutaneous melanoma. After two surgeries, which included some lymph node removal, it was determined that I had clear margins.  Following the surgeries, there were no other treatment options available to me because clinical trials were limited to people with later stages of the disease. Instead, I was given the standard protocol of interferon which, I was told, had a less than 10% chance of preventing future melanomas.   

Thankfully, I have been fortunate to have not had a recurrence of melanoma since my original diagnosis. In the years since, many treatment options have been approved by the FDA to treat melanoma, and this is because of robust research and clinical trials. For me, knowing there is a dynamic research pipeline has helped ease anxiety about improved treatment options for all melanoma patients.  While I am not a scientist by training, review panels often have patients/consumers as part of the review committee. I’ve been honored to participate with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) Research Grant Review and the CDMRP (Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs). With the CDMRP, I was a full voting member and consumer reviewers are asked to represent the collective view of patients through impact comments about the research for issues such as diagnosis, treatment and quality of life. 

A cancer diagnosis can make someone feel helpless (I know I certainly felt that way) when treatment options are limited. Being part of these review processes helps me feel proactive with advocacy and gives all melanoma patients hope for the future of one day eradicating this disease. 

I encourage all melanoma patients, caregivers, survivors, healthcare professionals or partners to share their voice and help advocate for better health outcomes for the melanoma community. Participate in the MRF’s Grant Review Program or join melanoma advocates nationwide and urge Congressional members and staff to make melanoma research, funding and eradication a national priority through the 2022 Virtual Advocacy Days program.

MRF Advocacy Days is the largest melanoma advocacy event of the year. Register today to join patients, caregivers and melanoma advocates from across the United States to share your story and ensure that the melanoma community remains a national priority: