When my deadline approached for this week’s blog post, I knew I wanted to share how my friend Amy inspired so many people some with cancer, some without — and how her strong belief in the power of cancer research guided her decisions throughout her cancer journey.
When I met Amy at a cancer support group, she had completed surgery and immunotherapy for melanoma. Her oncologist was ready to declare Amy cancer-free and healthy, pending results of a routine post-treatment EKG. That EKG confirmed that Amy’s melanoma had spread to a chamber of her heart in the form of a tumor she nicknamed “Roscoe.”
Amy always did her research to make sure she was fully aware of all treatment options, and she was eager to participate in any research that might help others. After pathology determined that gene mutations were causing standard treatment to be ineffective, Amy began taking a groundbreaking drug that had just received accelerated FDA approval. That was followed by another therapy, available only through a clinical trial. The drug helped “rewire” almost-immortal cancer cells to die sooner. She also had a particular surgery that had never been performed in Tennessee, followed by another trial drug that showed great promise in fighting advanced melanoma.
Sadly, nothing could give Amy the time we all wanted for her, time to grow old and laugh about the days gone by…days of infusions, blood counts, side effects, and breakthroughs. She hoped that her experience could be used to advance science to help other melanoma patients and her legacy is doing just that.