President’s Message – November 2018

Fifteen years ago, on November 24, 2003, my daughter Charlie died of melanoma.  She was 26 years old, a graduate of Brown University and considering medical school.

That year, the 24th fell on a Monday, three days before Thanksgiving.  She passed away at home, in her bed, early that morning.

Her death followed nine months of fear, anger, and disbelief trying to find some treatment that would work, some physician that would help, or some miracle that would save her.

Thanksgiving has been a hard holiday for us.  Our family has grown and continued to gather over the years, and we are especially thankful for each other.  But the loss of Charlie never goes away.

For all of you who have lost someone to melanoma—or lost someone, period—you know how difficult holidays can be.  I encourage you to use the resources on AIM’s website, to reach out to our Director of Community Engagement, or to contact a professional in your geographic location if you are needing some assistance.  I know I would have used some of AIM’s resources back in 2003 if they had been available.

But besides reflecting on the loss of Charlie and the difficulty of the holidays, this 15 year anniversary allows me to reflect on something much more upbeat: the growth and success of AIM at Melanoma.

Our November newsletter is devoted to reviewing where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished in 2018, as well as where we’re going in 2019.  We’ve made great progress.  And we have big plans.

You’ll read about the launch of our Melanoma Learning Center, and the planned launch of AIM’s dermatologist training program—a Continuing Medical Education program to help all dermatologists give a thorough skin check and spot early melanomas.  You’ll read about our continued efforts to ban indoor tanning, including our most recent efforts in New York state, and the plans for a nationwide legislative volunteer program to help us pass further under 18 indoor tanning restrictions.  And you’ll read about our research initiatives, in many ways the crux of what we do here at AIM.

After Charlie died, I immersed myself in the world of melanoma research to find out what was lacking, and what AIM could do to make a profound impact on the disease.  I knew then that AIM would fund innovative, global research, and I am extremely proud to say that AIM’s three paradigm-shifting research initiatives are now poised to help find the cure.  You’ll read about our 2018 research successes and our 2019 plans.

We know that since Charlie’s death melanoma has been one of the fastest growing cancers in the U.S. and worldwide, yet melanoma research lags behind that of other cancers.  We know that one person dies of melanoma every 54 minutes—all day, every day, all year long.  For me, these numbers are unacceptable.  If you’ve read this far, my guess is that they’re unacceptable to you, too.  Defeating the cancer that took my daughter’s life is now my life’s work.  Please join me.

Valerie Guild
Co-Founder & President
AIM at Melanoma Foundation

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