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Make a Difference with Wayne and the MRF

Wayne ConnersGuest blog post by melanoma survivor and MRF volunteer advocate, Wayne Conners:

Much of the time, people begin their melanoma stories something like this: “In March 2015, when my dermatologist called to tell me I had melanoma, I was stunned. My stomach dropped through the floor, I got dizzy and had to sit down.” We start our stories that way because our lives are forever after divided into two distinct and unchanging sections: “Before” and “After.” The rollercoaster we board that day takes us through shock, confusion, depression, dread, hope, exhilaration (sometimes), uncertainty and always, always fear.

In the nearly three years since my diagnosis, I’ve cycled through all of those emotions and more, several times. Here’s why hope continues to make an appearance:

The landscape of melanoma treatment is dramatically different than it was even fifteen years ago. Melanoma research has resulted in the approval of many new treatment protocols, such as my own (and Jimmy Carter’s) drug, Keytruda (Pembrolizumab). I recently had my 40th infusion of Keytruda. Would my melanoma have progressed without it? Probably. Would I be alive today? I don’t know. 

I do know that I’m fortunate to be someone who is benefiting from research into melanoma treatment. The three-year survival rate for metastatic melanoma patients has gone from around 10% in 2009 to approximately 50% today. While this is an amazing leap in the right direction, it’s still sobering. 50% alive at 3 years. You can think about that and say “Wow, that’s a lot better!”, but you can’t say, “That’s good enough.” There have been great advances but there remains much to do.

I wandered into MRF Land not knowing what to expect, but wanting to help out SOMEHOW. I started with an event or two, then attended the Advocacy Summit and visited offices of my Congressional representatives. I discovered that the MRF staff are committed, and more importantly, caring professionals who work really hard to make a difference. I also found a support community among the others there who, like me, were battling or had battled melanoma, and those who care for them. Some have become dear friends. Since then I’ve become more involved through various fundraising and support activities.    

We all know cancer treatment research is important. Melanoma treatment research became very personal for me in 2015, and the MRF supports melanoma treatment research. For me, that’s reason enough to support them with my money and time. Who knows, perhaps MRF-funded research led to the treatment that may have saved my life. The bonus is that the MRF staff and community are strong, committed, good people who ARE making a difference.


Join Wayne and make a difference today by making a tax-deductible year-end donation to the Melanoma Research Foundation!