SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Wednesday marks the first day of summer and millions of Southland residents are hitting the beaches and soaking up the run rays.
But the story of a skin cancer survivor offers a stark warning of the dangers of being out in the sunshine.
Two days after 26-year-old Shelby Nish gave birth to her son Baron she was diagnosed with stage four melanoma.
“I honestly thought it was a mistake,” she said. “I was an active 24 at the time and I was very healthy. How could I have cancer?”
Her doctor, Steven Oday, director of Immuno‑Oncology and Clinical Research at Providence St. John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica, said that she had “an extraordinary amount of tumors.”
“Five years ago she would have delivered her baby and then likely died very soon after,” Oday said.
Today Shelby is cancer-free and her 18-month old son Baron is happy and healthy. All thanks to a groundbreaking new cancer drug combination used to treat Shelby’s melanoma.
“With this new cocktail of T-cell antibodies we can activate and redirect these tired T-cells and put them back into action and they’re eradicating melanoma in a high percentage of cases.”
Oday said the progress they are making in melanoma is influencing other types of cancer too — lung cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer.
“There is truly a revolution going on right now not only in melanoma but in cancers in general,” said Oday.
“In Shelby’s case, she said that she had no symptoms. She gets checked every three months as part of her treatment and beating cancer was never a question in her mind. Even though she is in remissions she worries that it could come back.
“It’s scary. You’re scared it’s going to come back. It’s like PTSD. You just get scared,” she said.
Oday said the new treatment has increased long-term survival in up to 50 percent of melanoma patients. He also said the younger you are the more important it is to protect your skin from the sun. He suggests applying sunscreen with SPF 15 or more and to apply the sunblock 30 minutes before you go outside and reapply it throughout the day.