HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – This weekend, a Huntsville woman who was diagnosed with stage-three melanoma is now racing for research.
Rachel Meers is a homebuilder and owner of Brown and Meers Homes of Huntsville.
In addition to building homes, lately, she’s been building something intangible and invaluable: awareness about skin cancer and hope for a cure.
“You are a melanoma survivor,” said WHNT NEWS 19’s Beth Jett to Meers. “That’s right, three and a half years,” Meers said with a big smile.
On Saturday, November 3rd, she’ll join team-members in running a half-marathon in the Rock and Roll Race in Savannah, Georgia, on behalf of cancer survivors and victims.
It’s important to her because it raises money for research, the kind of research she has already benefitted from, administered at a hospital in Texas.
“It’s an experimental vaccine,” said Meers, describing a clinicial trial in which she participated. “I went out to MD Anderson in Houston every three weeks for a year and had a vaccine in my leg. They are seeing great results with it. It’s had national news coverage and I just pray that this vaccine can eliminate cancer cells that are existing in my body, if so, and other people.”
It was a year-long trial and three years later, Meers is free of the cancer that started as a mole on her back and spread to her lymph nodes. She hopes the race will lead to more donations to the American Cancer Society to pay for more clinical trials, specifically to fight skin cancers.
“The more money you have, the more research, the more research, just like the vaccine that I had, saves lives,” she said.
She’s also talking to anyone who will listen about what led to her battle: sun exposure, natural and at least 12 years worth in tanning beds.
“There’s not a lot of options for people that are diagnosed with melanoma,” said Meers. “It is one of the fastest growing cancers, especially for young women, thanks to tanning beds and the sun. It’s one of the deadliest as well.”
She has also participated in a generational study, since she had cancer on both sides of her family and was genetically predisposed to melanoma.
It’s served as a wake-up call to people around her, including her co-workers..
“Everybody has known somebody who has suffered from this disease,” said Sarah Turner, who works for Brown and Meers Homes. “And it’s very important that we let everybody know that there is support, they’re not alone.”
Turner and Meers hope their strides in the race will turn into strides ahead in research and understanding the importance of having any suspicious spot checked by a dermatologist.
If you’d like to sponsor Rachel Meers or contribute to the cause, you can find all the information by clicking here.