In March 2015, while skiing out West, Meline felt a mild pain in her chest. She thought it was altitude and ignored it for a few days before finally getting it checked, not wanting to slow down her group. A quick trip to the local medical center became a battle with stage 4 metastatic melanoma back in Connecticut.
In 2011, the average survival for patients with this type of cancer was 6 to 10 months. This had been the case for about 30 years and the typical treatment was surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, a.k.a. slash, burn and poison -- no matter the collateral damage to otherwise healthy parts of the body -- then cross your fingers that the disease doesn’t come back.
Immunotherapy approaches the problem differently. It stimulates the patient’s own body to kill the cancer by reprogramming the immune system. Meline qualified for this treatment which included Yervoy – the first drug proven to extend the lives of patients with metastatic melanoma. It came out of the Swim Across America lab at Sloan Kettering thanks to money raised at events like the Greenwich Swim and research like what the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT) funds. (Note: The Greenwich Swim benefits ACGT.)
So we are swimming today for more therapies like Yervoy, for many more years with Meline (we’re all supposed to grow old together!), and for everyone we know who is fighting cancer now or in the years to come.
We invite you to either swim with us (most of us are athletes of the land-based variety so don’t be undone by the swimming), or donate to our team. Any amount is tremendously appreciated.
You can make a credit card donation by clicking on one of the members of our team, or send a check to Swim Across America, c/o Matt Vossler, 5 Stanley Road, Darien, CT 06820. Check should be made out to Swim Across America but please include a note mentioning our team or the swimmer you are supporting!