There Is So Much Hope for Melanoma Patients

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Topics include: Patient Stories and Living Well

Our partner, the Patient Empowerment Network shares the story of Martha Bishop, melanoma survivor and patient advocate. Martha went through many drugs before she found the right one for system. Today she is feeling better, with some long-term side effects, but she is well and is able to enjoy each day with her family and her children. Bishop encourages patients to keep the faith and try clinical trials. Martha encourages patients to keep trying and searching for treatments until the right one is found. She explains is as a process that many have to undergo. Martha has faith in treatments and clinical trials, because of the continuous research that is being completed every day.

From Our Partner, the Patient Empowerment Network. www.powerfulpatients.org

This in-person town meeting was sponsored by the Patient Empowerment Network through educational grants from Genentech and Novartis. It was produced in partnership with Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Melanoma Research Alliance.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Carol Preston:

 Here is Martha. Come on up. And your last name, again, is?

Martha Bishop:

Bishop.

Carol Preston:

Martha Bishop. Congratulations. You’re doing so well.

Martha Bishop:

I am.

Carol Preston:   

And how are you feeling?

Martha Bishop:

I’m feeling good. I’m feeling good. There’s some fatigue and long-term side effects going on but nothing I can’t handle at this point.

Carol Preston:   

Well, I’m sure you’ve enjoyed being part of this forum today. What is your takeaway from what you have heard? Obviously, you’re a very knowledgeable and empowered patient.  But any little nuggets that you’ve picked up that you’d like to re-emphasize for our online audience?

Martha Bishop:

I think that research is still moving. And there’s so much hope for melanoma patients. When I looked at the list of treatments that they shared on a slide earlier, I’ve done all of them, except bio chemotherapy.  But I’ve done immunotherapy. I’ve done targeted therapy. I’ve done chemotherapy. And so to have had all of those and to finally have reached something that works for now, but there are still things happening.

And there’s so much hope. With my kids, honestly, when I was first diagnosed, they were 3 and 5. My goal was to get them through kindergarten and to survive to get them through kindergarten, and they’re in 3rd and 4th grade now. And I’m going to see them graduate.  And I have great hope to hold my grandbabies. And it’s just amazing to think that.

Carol Preston:   

I feel exactly the same way because, when I was diagnosed almost nine years ago and today isn’t about me, but you keep wanting to move those goal posts farther and farther out so that you can enjoy all of those momentous occasions. For me, it was travel, travel, travel, watching my kids grow. They’re adults now. And I thank the Lord every day for that. So it’s great. What do you tell patients?  You’re obviously involved with other melanoma patients.  And it’s a terrifying, terrifying disease thinking that you have just a skin cancer, and, suddenly, you have this terrifying disease.

How do you take the steam out of the pressure cooker for them?

Martha Bishop:

I think finding a doctor you trust to help guide you through and other people to walk through with you. I think, as a newly diagnosed patient, I wasn’t ready to do research into clinical trials. Honestly, I needed to lean on my melanoma specialist for that and other people online. And there are some great resources out there through the organizations who are helping melanoma patients. And this is one of them today.  And then taking it one step at a time.  When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know what stage I was.  I could have been stage I, II, III.  And not worrying, if that’s possible, and try not to worry about what’s coming next.

Or when I was stage III, not worrying about stage IV treatments, because we didn’t know what was going to happen.

Carol Preston:   

Your kids, do they know what’s going on?

Martha Bishop:

They do. They knew from the beginning.  We’ve always limited what we told them to what they need to know. My 10-year-old just said to me the other day, he said, “Mom, most people don’t really make it, do they?”  And I mean, he just put that connection together. And we always told them.  There were times when I had brain tumors that it was really scary. But we always told them, “We will tell you when it’s time to worry. We promise.” And in our minds, it meant if I went into hospice, then we would prepare them for that. But for now, it’s a chronic disease, and mom has to go to the doctor a lot.                

And maybe it was a blessing that they were young because they’ve just kind of realized not everyone’s mom goes to the doctor as much as you do.  

Carol Preston:   

But it’s important to talk to your children.

Martha Bishop:

I feel like it. They would have known something was going on, or they would have thought I was the laziest mom in the world with my fatigue.  But yeah, I think it’s good for them to know. And they’re resilient.

Carol Preston:   

That’s wonderful. Well, Martha Bishop of Tucson who, obviously, stays out of the sun and keeps her children out of the sun, I want to thank you for all you’re doing to help other melanoma patients and for becoming smarter every day. And we thank you so much.  And much luck and success. 

Martha Bishop: 

Thank you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on July 18, 2017