Meredith's Mission for Melanoma is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with a MISSION to raise funds for donations to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, as well as the future University of Texas Medical School in Austin, in support of their research in melanoma medical oncology. It is also our mission to RAISE AWARENESS of this deadly disease, as well as provide guidance on prevention and support others in their fight.
Meredith had just turned 22 years old in October of 2002, when she was first diagnosed with melanoma cancer. In November, Meredith underwent surgery to remove the melanoma. The surgery and pathology determined that the cancer was Stage 1B, and it was determined that the surgery had been successful and no follow-up treatment was recommended. For the next six years, Meredith followed the prescribed regiment of oncology and dermatology appointments, scans, tests and removal of many other moles as a precaution. After that time, her Oncologist told her she was cured and to go live her life - and she did.
Having been introduced to Christopher Kluck by family friends in August, 2013, they married on May 30, 2015, - her "best day ever!" On June 9th, ten days after their wedding, and THIRTEEN years after her original diagnosis, Meredith found a lump under her left arm. Hoping that it was simply a clogged duct, she was treated with antibiotics which did nothing. Eventually, she was diagnosed with a recurrence of melanoma cancer on June 29.
Meredith's melanoma had recurred in the lymph nodes along the same path as the primary melanoma lymph nodes. After surgery on July 9, 2015, the pathology showed that Meredith had the most common type of melanoma - the BRAF gene mutation. We were told that there were new targeted therapies that would help build up her body's immune system to fight this type of melanoma and that since it had spread to the other lymph nodes it was considered Stage 3.
At the end of July, she went to Dallas to interview for a Stage 3 drug trial testing two FDA approved drugs (Yervoy and Opdivo) known to target her type of melanoma. At the end of August, the trial doctors performed new scans and found spots on her liver. An MRI showed that there was cancer in her liver and back bone, and also another mass near her pancreas. Her status changed to Stage 4, which is considered terminal. She was no longer a candidate for the trial in Dallas.
Eventually, we learned that she was eligible for a Stage 4 trial being conducted here in Austin in which the two drugs were being administered together. Previous trials done on administering these two drugs together had had very positive outcomes for a larger percentage of patients and the FDA was "close" to approving the two drugs together.
Meredith and Christopher went to M. D. Anderson (MDA) in Houston to get a second opinion on the course of treatment and were assured that the two drugs together was the best treatment available for her. Unfortunately, the biopsy of the mass near her pancreas, turned out to be another type of cancer - a Gastro Intestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST), therefore making her ineligible for the Stage 4 melanoma trial.
It was about this time that Meredith began to experience back pain which was the spreading of the cancer. She had one treatment on September 23rd but was put in the hospital less than a week later to manage her pain. She was given a radiation treatment on her 35th birthday, Thursday, October 1, 2015, and another on Friday. Sadly, it did nothing to slow the rapid spread of this horrible disease, and by then, she had declined to the point that we were told she would not make it.
She passed away on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, just four months after getting married, three months after her diagnosis and less than a week after her birthday.
It was Meredith's wish that she wanted to do something to promote melanoma awareness and help prevent others from getting this horrible disease. It is our prayer that we help make her wish come true through our work with Meredith's Mission for Melanoma.