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Karen’s personal story

Karen Valasquez
I was on my honeymoon on a beach in Santorini, Greece, applying sunscreen to my face. I felt a lump on my jaw, as I moved downward on my neck, I felt more lumps that felt like frozen peas under my skin.

I returned home to a dismal diagnosis of stage IV melanoma and was given six months to live. That was nearly 17 years ago.

With a diagnosis of stage IV melanoma, hope can be pretty hard to come by. Today, after 22 weeks in the hospital doing IL2, 15 operations, one of which removed and reconstructed the lower part of my face due to a tumor, and having it return 7 times, I am now healthy.

I am also an outspoken advocate for dangers of excessive sun exposure and tanning beds. I am also an outspoken beacon of hope for a patient population who desperately needs to know there is hope. I have been healthy now for nearly 10 years. And since I know how blessed I am, it is my sincere desire to help others.