When I received a Stage IIIc diagnosis in 2003, my post-surgical treatment options were few. I could roll the dice and “wait and see”. Or I could choose treatment with Interferon, approved by the FDA in 1995, which my doc said would only marginally improve my odds of avoiding a recurrence. Door Number Three was biochemotherapy treatment, which my doc seemed to believe was showing better results than Interferon, although it hadn’t been done long enough for him to quote any reliable statistics for me to mull over. During the mercifully brief time the docs thought I was quite likely at Stage IV, the only treatment option seemed to be biochemotherapy to delay the inevitable for a few months. And it wasn’t all that long ago when my doc told me that melanoma was one of the forgotten stepchildren at The Hotel Carcinoma.
But, oh my, how things have changed. Over the past year or so we’ve seen FDA- approval of two new Stage IV treatment drugs, Yervoy and Zelboraf, and others like anti-PD-1 are in the trial pipeline. Yervoy and Zelboraf trials for Stage III patients are also underway. And just last week, MD Anderson Cancer Center announced the launch of its Melanoma Moon Shot Program, aimed at dramatically reducing both the incidence and mortality of melanoma.
We seem to have arrived at a crossroads, a turning point where the road that lies ahead is paved with the promise of more and better treatment options for advanced melanoma patients. And it’s about time. Now if we could just get the feds to issue the equivalent of a fatwah against the indoor tanning industry and quacks like ‘Dr.’ Mercola. And live to see a black flash mob shutting down the streets of a major city for a race for a melanoma cure.
The Hotel Melanoma twist on The Allman Brothers Band’s “Melissa”…
Crossroads ... seem to come too slow ... yeah
The kids they fry from coast to coast
Sowing skin C, sunning done
Bearing sorrow, baking sun
But black-prone we'll always run ... for sweet remission
Great pain ... each scar hooks a name ... none the same
And no one knows “just skin C’s” game
Young ones hear the UV lies
There are those tan beds where C lies
Lord in our deepest dreams “just skin C” cries ... for sweet remission
It seems our morning's come
It seems C’s on the run
Sunscreen shinin' through the air
Better not to have a care
So pick up your gear and skin C roll on ... roll on
Crossroads ... will we ever see it go?
Yo... yo...yo...When will we hide the dead tan's ghost?
Lord, when will C lie ... beneath the plain? When will this devil go away?
But I know that C won't stay ... we’ll flout remission
Yes I know that C won't stay ... we’ll flout remission