Pro Baseball Hall of Famer and Cancer Survivor Mike Schmidt Joins Merck, Jim Kelly and Leading Cancer Organizations to Expand Your Cancer Game Plan to Help More People Impacted by Cancer
Carmen de Gourville
KENILWORTH, N.J. (September 19, 2017) — Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly and Pro Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt – two legendary athletes whose determination, faith and hard work earned them a place in sports history – now they have something else in common: overcoming cancer. Earlier this year, Kelly shared his “game plan” for tackling head and neck cancer to launch Your Cancer Game Plan, an awareness campaign, from Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, focused on helping people with cancer and their loved ones cope with their emotional, health, and communication needs. Now, in partnership with melanoma survivor Schmidt, CancerCare and leading melanoma patient organizations, the initiative is expanding to help those with melanoma map out their own cancer “game plan.”
A melanoma diagnosis – particularly for someone with advanced or late stage disease – can cause feelings of depression, anxiety or fear. Schmidt, considered the greatest third baseman in baseball history, spent 18 seasons in the Major Leagues racking up impressive stats and accolades, but today believes melanoma is the biggest game-changer of his life.
“Enduring Stage III melanoma not only gave me a greater appreciation for the relationships in my life, but a renewed sense of purpose,” said Schmidt. “One way I can give back is to help others find the support, information and tools they need to make it through this journey. I was fortunate that my game plan came together with the support of my family and team of doctors, but I know others may need help taking action.”
By visiting www.yourcancergameplan.com people can hear Schmidt’s journey with melanoma and his tips about remaining positive, open communication, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Your Cancer Game Plan for melanoma is a collaboration between Merck and CancerCare, and leading melanoma patient organizations with more than 100 years of combined experience - including AIM at Melanoma, the Melanoma Research Foundation, Melanoma International Foundation, and the Melanoma Research Alliance.
Melanoma is a skin cancer that begins in the melanocytes (cells that produce melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color). The rates of melanoma have been rising in the U.S. for the past 30 years. In 2017, about 87,110 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the U.S. It’s normal for people living with melanoma to feel worried, depressed, or anxious. While some are affected more than others, everyone can benefit from help and support.
“A cancer diagnosis can turn a person’s world upside down – both physically and emotionally,” said Patricia Goldsmith, chief executive officer of CancerCare. “That’s why it’s critical for people living with melanoma to seek support. Whether it’s talking to a loved one or a professional counselor, or by using resources like Your Cancer Game Plan and those offered through patient organizations to help plan, guide and manage the difficult path ahead.”
To hear more about Your Cancer Game Plan, Schmidt’s story as well as tips from CancerCare and other leading cancer advocates, please join a one-hour online discussion on Thursday, October 19 at 11:00 AM EST. Visit CancerCare.org/melanoma to register.
About Your Cancer Game Plan
“We’re proud to partner with baseball great Mike Schmidt who began advocating for sun prevention as part of his personal cancer journey, and is now joining Merck and leaders in the oncology community to provide others impacted by melanoma with Your Cancer Game Plan resources,” said Jill DeSimone, senior vice president, Merck Oncology, U.S.
Your Cancer Game Plan is a resource for people with cancer and their loved ones focused on the emotional, health and communication challenges of living with cancer. The online Your Cancer Game Plan hub provides unique content including communication tips, coping strategies, and health and nutritional information, including healthy recipes, to help those with cancer and their caregivers take an active role in developing a “game plan” to support their journey. The initiative is supported by Merck in partnership with CancerCare, Savor Health and seven (7) cancer-specific organizations with more than 100 years of combined experience. To learn more, visit www.yourcancergameplan.com
About Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt made his Major League Baseball debut in 1972, after spending two seasons on the Philadelphia Phillies’ farm team. He played for the Phillies for 18 seasons, and is often considered the greatest third baseman to ever have played the sport. Schmidt was a twelve-time All-Star, a three-time winner of the National League Most Valuable Player award, and won the National League Gold Glove Award for third basemen ten times. Schmidt was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995. As a professional athlete, Schmidt always felt invincible, but facing a Stage III melanoma diagnosis really threw him a curveball.
In August 2013, Schmidt noticed a lesion on his hand that looked suspicious. His dermatologist conducted a full examination and found a mole on Schmidt’s back that he wanted to biopsy. The biopsy revealed Stage III melanoma, which led to multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation where Schmidt spent months fighting for his life. Now cancer-free, Schmidt advocates for sun prevention and has joined Merck to help provide others battling melanoma with Your Cancer Game Plan tools and resources.
Founded in 1944, CancerCare is the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer. Our comprehensive services include counseling and support groups over the phone, online and in-person, educational workshops, publications and financial and co-payment assistance. All CancerCare services are provided by oncology social workers and world-leading cancer experts. Headquartered in New York, NY, CancerCare maintains three additional locations in Norwalk, CT, Ridgewood, NJ and Syosset, NY.
To learn more, visit www.cancercare.org or call 800-813-HOPE (4673).
About Our Melanoma Partners
AIM at Melanoma
AIM at Melanoma is the largest international melanoma foundation globally engaged and locally invested in advancing the battle against melanoma through innovative research, legislative reform, education, and patient and caregiver support.
Melanoma International Foundation
Established in 2003, the Melanoma International Foundation (MIF) is a non-profit organization created to provide the scientifically sound guidance and support our founder could not find when she was diagnosed with melanoma.
Melanoma Research Alliance
The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) is the largest private funder of melanoma and pursues a mission to end suffering and death due to melanoma by collaborating with all stakeholders to accelerate powerful research, advance cures for all patients and prevent more melanomas. Thanks to the generosity of MRA founders, Debra and Leon Black, 100% of donations to MRA goes directly to supporting melanoma research. MRA has committed more than $88 million in funding to advance melanoma research and leveraged an additional $82 million in the fight against melanoma. MRA funds projects in the areas of prevention, diagnosis and treatment. www.CureMelanoma.org.
Melanoma Research Foundation
The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the largest independent organization devoted to melanoma. The MRF is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization committed to advancing education, advocacy and medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Merck’s Focus on Cancer
Our goal is to translate breakthrough science into innovative oncology medicines to help people with cancer worldwide. At Merck Oncology, helping people fight cancer is our passion and supporting accessibility to our cancer medicines is our commitment. Our focus is on pursuing research in immuno-oncology and we are accelerating every step in the journey – from lab to clinic – to potentially bring new hope to people with cancer.
For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world - including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.