President’s Letter | November 2022

Presidents Update Front the desk of Samantha Guild

From the Desk of Samantha Guild

November is the month to prioritize our gratitude, and I never tire of this month as the President of AIM at Melanoma. So many people give AIM the ability and resources to do our work, and I enjoy thanking all of you. I’m grateful for everyone in our orbit.

I want to point you to the survivor story about Madison Goff, who was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma at the age of 15. One of the most important things that Madison revealed to us in her story is that reading AIM’s website—especially the survivor stories—helped her get through her roughest times: “I knew I could go on the site and read survivors’ stories,” she said. “That gave me the hope that I was going to make it through.”

AIM’s newsletters generally feature one or more survivor stories; we assign these stories to a professional writer and then publish them for our community in this newsletter. These stories remain on our website indefinitely on our Melanoma 360 Blog. Additionally, AIM’s Survivor stories webpage currently houses 231 stories; these are survivor-written—auto-biographical accounts of what the survivor has been through. It’s a massive library of the battles people have fought with melanoma over the years. Yes, some people profiled in these stories have passed away. Indeed, earlier this year, one person sadly passed away the day before we published his story. But their survival—however long it lasts—and their fight are what we celebrate. We know these stories provide hope, and we’re happy that Madison was able to take some hope from reading them during her battle. We hope they’ve given you some solace, too.

I also want to call your attention to this month’s In Plain English article on TILs therapy. For those who don’t know about this treatment, you’ll learn through Dr. Kim Margolin’s clear explanation of TILs history, mechanism, and current state. I also want to emphasize something Dr. Margolin notes in her article: TILs—which is in clinical trial now and will hopefully be approved soon by the FDA—has been under investigation for nearly 35 years. The last ten years have been accelerated and exciting seeing years of research translate to success treating patients. Similarly, it was in 1982 when Dr. Jim Allison discovered the T-cell receptor and the early 1990s when he showed that CTLA-4 acts as an inhibitory molecule to restrict T-cell responses. Since the first approval in 2011 (ipilimumab; brand name Yervoy), immunotherapy treatment approvals have multiplied. My point? These brilliant discoveries sometimes take decades to turn into viable therapies, but if we keep funding research, we will continue uncovering new treatments. Research is critical.

This year we were honored to be invited to be a benefiting charity of No-Shave November. Please read about the campaign and don’t hesitate to participate now, despite it being the last week of November.

Finally, please read our article on the genesis behind AIM partnering with FreeWill and the free service we are able to offer the AIM community.

Thank you for your support of AIM at Melanoma.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Samantha Guild
AIM at Melanoma Foundation