Sue Manber’s story could be anyone’s. In October 2012, her daughter, Sarina, asked, “Mom, what’s that on your nose?”
“That” looked like a harmless little pimple, but Sue booked an appointment with a dermatologist. “He did a biopsy and afterwards, I thought nothing more about it,” Sue said.
On New Year’s Eve, Sue got a call from her doctor. “He told me to sit down and grab a pen,” she explained. “He said I had Merkel cell carcinoma, an extremely rare, aggressive cancer. At the time, the prognosis was just five months.”
In one stunning instant, everything changed. Sue’s life became a fight to survive, and each moment had a stark sense of urgency. In all, her battle involved seven surgeries and eight weeks of chemotherapy with concurrent radiation. Though the prognosis was grim, Sue beat the odds. In 2019, she celebrated six years with no evidence of the disease.
“There aren’t many people who get to say, ‘My daughter saved my life.’ I will forever be grateful to Sarina for asking me, ‘What’s that?’ Had I ignored her, even for a few weeks, I wouldn’t be here today.”
“The reason the survival rate for Merkel cell carcinoma is so low is because most people don’t catch it early enough,” Sue explained. “As a survivor I’ve learned some powerful lessons, and I’m sharing my story to help people grasp the seriousness of this disease. My personal mission is to do everything in my power to help more people prevent and detect skin cancer early, and ultimately, to end death from skin cancer.”
After treatment, Sue and her team from Digitas Health worked with The Skin Cancer Foundation to launch The Big See, an awareness campaign that aims to inspire people to get to know their skin, look in the mirror and keep these three words in mind: NEW, CHANGING or UNUSUAL.
It’s that simple. If you see something that makes you wonder “What’s that?” – go get checked. It could save your life.
This post is part of a patient education series made possible through a grant from EMD Serono and Pfizer. Learn more at EMDSerono.com.