BENEFITING: IMPACT Melanoma
ORGANIZER: IMPACT Melanoma
EVENT: Boston Marathon 2014
EVENT DATE: Apr 21, 2014
Dear Friends and Family,
It has taken me a while to have the energy to update my fundraising page.
Every hour of every day one American life is lost to this awful disease. In the hour between 2am and 3am pacific time on January 9, 2014, my Ginger kid, Connor Mehaffey Cockerham, lost his battle. He was only 20. While his treatments were working to shrink the tumors in his body, the treatment was not effective in stopping the metasteses to his brain. Melanoma is a monster. Our family will never be the same and he is missed every second of every day. I don't have energy in my body to train like I should for this race, but I will finish the race and I will continue to raise as much money as possible. I signed up to run for this cause in honor of my son. I will finish it in memory of him.
I am leaving this messages below so that you can read Connors full story
With much gratitude and love,
Mother of The Ginger.
Dear Friends and Family,
I began fundraising for this event the 4th week of October. At that point, when I wrote the message below, we believed that our 20 year old son, Connor, was cancer-free. He was enrolled in college full time and had a job where he worked about 25 hours a week. Everything was normal.
Also about the 4th week of October, Connor texted me a picture that he'd taken of his eyelid that showed a suspicious looking black spot. We immediately called his oncologist and had an appt scheduled. Until that point, Connor felt fine though he had experienced occasional nausea and some body pain, but nothing that stopped him from his daily activities.
On November 1st our family traveled to NYC where I would be running the 2013 NYC Marathon. During dinner our first night Connor became so sick that the following morning we went to emergency room. It was there that the first CT scan was done - and it showed all of the tumors in Connor's body. We immediately returned to California and went directly to emergeny room from the airport. After a quick review of his CT scan and the report we brought from the NYC hospital - Connor was admitted and we began the long journey of battling stage 4, the final stage, of metastatic melanoma.
Connor has tumors in almost every organ and bones and shows signs of growth in his lungs, but fortunately his MRI brain scan was clear. He is being treated at UCSF Medical Center - and is on the Tafinlar-Mekinist combo therapy - which is a fairly new drug combo. He's been on the medication for 3.5 weeks and so far is showing no signs of responding. This combo is effective in shrinking tumors about 80% of the time. We are scheduled to have a scan in the next 10 days and based on those results may move to another treatment. We are not giving up hope.
Our days now are spent with an unrelenting medication schedule to help manage pain and nausea. His doctors have told me they are not sure how he was walking around with all of this in his body. Interestingly, he'd had a physical two months prior and all of his blood work was normal.
So, that's the update. When I read the message I wrote below I recall how wonderful it felt that my son was healthy. I'm looking forward to a time when I can write a "my son is cancer-free" again.
The dollars that are raised by wonderful organizations like MFNE help support research that are saving peoples lives. The research is terribly important - but MFNE also does a tremendous amount to raise awareness. Many people think that melanoma is "just a skin cancer" and no big deal. Here's what I have to say to that....take a look at a stage 4 CT Scan and you will see the melanoma so much more than skin deep. I'm leaving my original message below because it gives me hope!
Again, much gratitude to you!
Thanks for visiting my fundraising page! Most of you know that I'm passionate about supporting cancer-related causes. Over the past 4 years we've contributed about $55k to support cancer research, and to help cancer victims and their families while they are in treatment. I say "we" because it was only through the generosity of people like you that raising those dollars were possible.
When I started this journey 4 years ago I was simply looking for a way to give back to my community. Little did I know that I would be touched so personally during this short time - both my husband and my youngest son - are now cancer survivors. My husband has had 2 bouts - and is now one year cancer free.
My son, Connor, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma during his senior year of high school. I can personally say that having any family member with any kind of illness is awful. But having a child have go through something like this is unimaginable and there aren't words to describe it. In fact, it brings tears to my eyes just typing the words.
Am happy to say that after 2 surgeries, over 300 stitches, multiple biopsies, skin grafts and a reconstructive surgery - Connor is now clear, though never out of danger. Connor will likely have one more reconstructive surgery during the next 2-3 years.
So this cause is near and dear to my heart.
A few facts:
Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.
One American dies of melanoma almost every hour. In 2013, it is estimated that 9,480 deaths will be attributed to melanoma — 6,280 men and 3,200 women.
The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 65,000 people a year worldwide die malignant skin cancer.
Approximately 75 percent of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma.
I'm honored to have been selected by the MFNE team to raise funds for this cause. Please help me by contributing this year.
I'm Running for Cover for Connor - my ginger kid and the light of my life!
Much gratitude and love to all of you for your support.
A Message from Melanoma Foundation of New England
While we are forever changed by the events that took place on April 15, 2013 and the days that followed, we will not let this define our experience. Before the tragedies on Marathon Monday, Team Running for Cover was already a remarkable group of individuals who came together to take on the challenge of the marathon and raise money for a cause they are passionate about. They are now forever bonded, pulling together as teammates – and now friends – they supported each other and never waivered in their dedication to the team’s mission.
The Melanoma Foundation of New England's mission is to reduce the incidents of melanoma in the New England region through education, prevention and support. MFNE hosts a range of educational programs to spread awareness. These programs include Your Skin Is In, a program teaching high school and college students the dangers of tanning, and The Skinny on Skin, which teaches beauty professionals to recognize potential melanomas on the head, neck and scalp of their clients.
Team Running for Cover is running the 2014 Boston Marathon to raise funds to support MFNE's mission. All funds raised will be used to fund and expand these educational programs throughout the New England Area.