Eliminating Melanoma and Making My Day

Yesterday ranks as one of my favorite days of the year.  Why?  I got to spend three hours with one of the foremost experts in metastatic melanoma treatment research.  I know… you’re jealous, but this man spends his days thinking of ways to beat melanoma and to me that makes him amazing.

Here’s why spending the afternoon with Brian Nickoloff, M.D., Ph.D. at the Van Andel Institute of Research in Grand Rapids, MI made my day:

  1. Just sitting in his presence makes you feel smart (or smarter).
  2. He has found a drug cocktail that has eliminated melanoma cancer cells in laboratory rats after 100 days of treatment.  Eliminated!  That is life saving, world changing research.
  3. He doesn’t act like a guy who just create life saving, world changing research.
  4. He is a genuinely nice guy.  When I asked him what motivates him to keep up the crazy pace he lives as a doctor, researcher and educator, he said, “because there is too much suffering out there and if I’m not doing this job, someone won’t get the treatment that could save their life.”
  5. He shared with me that he has worked with research mice for so long that he has developed an allergy to their dander.
  6. He gives me hope that I will make it through the next 60 years of my life.  That I will get to travel the world, be at my sons’ weddings, meet my grandkids and grow old with my husband.  His research and all the momentum behind melanoma are happening now and are currently applicable.
  7. He gets it.  He is a family man who is deeply involved and committed to the patients and their families.  He understands what it is like to live with the threat of cancer in your life.
  8. He talks about cell mutations and genomes like it is everyday language.  And the funny thing is, you understand it like it is everyday language.
  9. He works and lives in my backyard!  Thanks VAI!
  10. He tells you to live in the now and the future.  You can’t fix what you did in the past, but the key to survival is staying vigilant with your sun safety and keeping your immune system in top notch shape: exercise, eat right, meditate, be positive.  Our immune system spends every day keeping cancer cells in check.  Help it do its job and you will be rewarded with a long healthy life.

Independently funded research is the key to true discovery.  To learn more about the Van Andel Institute of Research and how you can help further their efforts visit, www.vai.org.

Author: sunality

I am a mother of two and survivor of a very scary malignant melanoma diagnosis. I was diagnosed in my early thirties. Since that day, I have been working to change my lifestyle and incorporate sun blocking effective products into my daily life to create a new reality of living in the sun... my "sunality." I want to pass along this information to others who are facing the same lifestyle changes and challenges. You can still live a normal life and protect yourself from the deadly effects of the sun.

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