MSK Saved Me from Afar

By Carol Ann Nickle

I have never stepped foot in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, but I can say without a doubt that their physicians helped save my life.

When I entered the University of Delaware in 1975, it was my goal to become an elementary school music teacher. Music was an important part of my upbringing in Maryland, where I accompanied numerous choirs and an all-county chorus on the piano. I was pursuing the dream when at age 19, I became so sick that I was unable to walk to class.

An Unexpected Diagnosis

My family physician took one look at me, observed that my skin was as yellow as the slacks I was wearing that day, and admitted me to the hospital with an expected diagnosis of hepatitis. After two weeks of tests and consultations with specialists, my parents and I were given the actual cause of my illness: malignant melanoma. The worst form of skin cancer, it had already spread to my liver, lungs, and lymph system.

My doctors at what was then Wilmington General Hospital’s Carpenter Clinic planned to send me to Memorial Sloan Kettering for evaluation. But thanks to MSK, my hometown medical team was able to consult directly with MSK oncologists and establish a treatment protocol without the need for me to travel to New York City.

 

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MSK Expertise from Home

This made a real difference in my life because I could receive the most advanced care where I lived, surrounded by the comforts of home and family. After my first session of what was then a novel chemotherapy, dacarbazine, my condition improved dramatically.

A few months later I was healthy enough to return to college! However, I no longer had the desire to teach music, which I now associated with being sick. Instead, during the six years of treatment that followed, I built a successful career as an administrative assistant, and later retired.

Living a Full Life—And Giving Back

In May 2021, I celebrated another 46 years of living. That’s how much time had passed since my melanoma diagnosis. Cancer research and treatment have come a long way since then. I’ve learned that MSK has also developed the first modern immunotherapies for melanoma, and expanded their use to other forms of cancer. I credit MSK, and their physicians’ collaboration with my local doctors, with my full recovery.

It’s why I have included MSK in my estate plans as a beneficiary of my IRA. For me, taking the necessary steps to make a planned gift to MSK is essential. This way, I help ensure that their scientists and physicians can continue to advance research that makes a difference for people with cancer around the world. I couldn’t be more proud to support innovative breakthroughs that will touch lives of so many, well into the future.

 


 

You Can Make a Difference, Too

You can join Carol in helping to change the future of cancer care by making your own legacy gift to MSK. Contact the Office of Gift Planning at 800-688-1827 or giftplanning@mskcc.org to learn more about how you can drive life-changing science and services.

 

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