MRA's Latest Research Report: The Melanoma Research Community Reunites
Each year, MRA brings together hundreds of people from across the melanoma research community to exchange ideas, report on scientific progress, celebrate achievements, and mourn our collective losses.
This year, after going fully virtual for the 2021 program due to COVID-19, the 2022 Scientific Retreat also served as an in-person reunion and marked an official reset in face-to-face collaboration and networking.
To kick off the Scientific Retreat’s many talks, panel discussions, and poster sessions, participants heard from J.B. Ward and Keith Tolley, both melanoma survivors who have benefited from recent advances in melanoma treatment options.
J.B. was diagnosed with vaginal mucosal melanoma just two months after celebrating the first birthday of her only child. She was told that she had a 5% chance of surviving five years. At the time, the number five became very important to her and she made a goal to get him to kindergarten. A few months later, she began what would become a year of intensive therapy for her melanoma. Ultimately, it worked. “I thought I’d be barely clinging to life — maybe in a wheelchair — but here I am. Full of life and looking forward to reaching the next phase with him and that’s all thanks to all of you.”
Keith opened his remarks by sharing a photo of his immediate family taken in December 2018. A week after the photo was taken, Keith underwent a liver biopsy that confirmed that he had Stage 4 melanoma. Keith underwent a series of treatments including clinical trials, multiple surgeries, combination immunotherapy, among others. “All of my treatments worked together synergistically...and by God’s grace, I stand here before you as a post-treatment melanoma survivor. I just want to say thank you. Thank you for what you do and for being there for us. And please, please, never stop pursuing the cure.”
Featured topics in the 2022 Research Report:
- The Changing Melanoma Landscape
- New Melanoma Treatment Strategies
- Artificial Intelligence & Melanoma Detection: Closing the Gaps
- Overcoming Treatment Resistant Melanoma
- Tips for Making Your Melanoma Journey Easier
- How Biomarkers Are Used in Melanoma
- Sun Safety for the Melanoma Community
With the impact of Keith and J.B.’s words still heavy in the room, participants welcomed Dr. Jason Luke to provide the Retreat’s opening keynote lecture.