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My name is Susanne Milne…

Receiving the words that you have cancer is one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me. I can still, 10 years later, remember exactly the date, the time, the place and the complete panic I felt. I tried to ignore it, to run away from it, but of course you cannot – you have to deal with the disease, the treatments and how to live your life with cancer.

Trying to juggle daily life, work, treatments and your own fear is hard and it takes up a lot of space in your life. Early on my oncologist, Anna Pavlick at NYU Langone, said these great words to me: “It is my job to take care of and manage your cancer; your job is to live your life to the fullest.” This helped me immensely and changed my attitude about how to cope and live with cancer. It has allowed me to worry less about my treatments and rather live a positive life and focus my energy on advocacy.

In January 2015, I joined the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) to connect with other melanoma patients, learn more about the work of the MRF and how I could become an advocate. Being part of the MRF has connected me with melanoma patients and caregivers and given me the opportunity to become an advocate for education, awareness, research and prevention. Each year, I participate in the MRF’s Advocacy Summit and Hill Day in DC where we approach Senators and Representatives to speak about melanoma and advocate for sun protection, tanning bed legislation and funding for melanoma research. Being a part of the MRF in this way has taught me to value my voice and my story as an important tool. Being an advocate and part of the progress being achieved for melanoma gives me great pride and joy.