With melanoma being the leading cause of cancer death in young women ages 25-30 and 160,000 Americans expected to be diagnosed with the disease this year*, her mission to spread awareness has become more important than ever.
Tell us about your diagnosis…
It felt like the end of the world. I had little hope that I would survive. There were so few treatment options at the time that I was constantly in fear that the melanoma would come back. The scariest part was realizing that if the melanoma did come back it would be stage IV. I was willing to do anything at the time to try and extend my life. My son was only 3.5 and I knew he was too young to lose his mother.
I had a major surgery, participated in an experimental trial and was on an oral bio chemotherapy for a year. Each week my mom and I would go to Philadelphia where the trial was held. Those days were very challenging. I would not have had the strength to persevere without the support of my family and friends. I put on a very brave face to the public but, I was suffering silently for years. I am truly grateful every day for the gift of life that I have been given.
What inspired you to start the Live4Life Foundation?
Shortly after I was diagnosed I learned that Melanoma does not discriminate by age, race or gender and incidence levels of melanoma are increasing faster than any other cancer. I made a commitment to myself that not only would I be victorious in my own fight with melanoma, I would also find a lasting and powerful way to help others facing the disease. I would turn tragedy into triumph. I wanted to get my story out there and give melanoma a voice, I was hopeful that my story could save other people’s lives.
What are the main goals of the Live4Life Foundation?
The Live4Life Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help those affected by melanoma. Live4Life is committed to funding research to find an effective treatment and cure for melanoma. The foundation also creates awareness about the dangers of melanoma. Through education we hope to achieve these goals and enable prevention.