Anti PD-1: A New Hope

Daniel and me at the Melanoma Walk in October 2012!

Daniel and me at the Melanoma Walk in October 2012!

The right sidebar of my blog contains a list of my history with Melanoma. It is quite an extensive list. I am blessed to have been diagnosed at the “best time” in history to have Melanoma. Progress that has eluded researchers for many years is finally being made in treating this horrible cancer. Did you know that doctors have been able to cure Melanoma in rats for a number of years? It is frustrating that they haven’t been able to do the same in humans.

A little over two weeks ago I began a new drug that is in clinical trial and showing great promise for treating Melanoma. There is a coating on some cancer cells called Programmed Death 1(PD-1). When the immune system attempts to attack the cancer, the PD-1 hits the self destruct button on the immune cells. The Anti PD-1 drug turns off this mechanism and allows the immune system to fight the cancer. Besides having a good success rate in patients, another wonderful aspect of this drug is that is has very few side effects! I have had a bit of fatigue, a tiny bit of joint pain in my left wrist, and I noticed some dry patches developing on the insides of my elbows and on my back. I’ll take it! And the new hope this drug offers! I receive my next dose on Thursday. Bring it on!

Sunscreen Tip

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Applying sunscreen can be a pain when it is a runnier formula and has a screw or flip top. Fingers get slippery, the bottle gets greasy, in the worst case it gets dropped and your floor gets a slick new UV coating! Yuck!!! About a year ago, I realized I could replace the flip top that came on my sunscreen with a pump top that I borrowed from an old bottle of lotion. For another bottle, I bought a pump bottle of hand sanitizer from the dollar store just for the pump top. A pump makes dispensing and portioning sunscreen SO much easier for adults and kids! Don’t forget that sunscreen application is an important life skill that children need to be taught. 

Review- Blue Lizard Sunscreen

For my first sunscreen review, I thought I’d begin with my very favorite sunscreen. It’s the first sunscreen my dermatologist (who specializes in Melanoma) recommended to me. Actually, she recommended it for my children when they were getting freckles and a slight tan despite my faithful morning application of sunscreen before I sent them to school. She said I needed something more “sticky” to last throughout the school day. It’s also what she uses on her own kids before sending them out to play in the Arizona sun!  Thankfully, Blue Lizard sunscreens aren’t sticky as in tacky feeling. They rub in nicely. They are longer lasting on skin (in my opinion) than other sunscreens because they meet Australian sunscreen standards which are much more stringent than our own sunscreen standards here in the USA. From Blue Lizard’s “About Blue Lizard” page.

“In the United States, the highest standards for water resistance are 80 minutes in still water. Our Very Water Resistant Regular and Sport formulas meet the most stringent Australian Standards which are 240 minutes in whirlpool water, making them over three times as water resistant!”

A quick note, that this only applies to the Regular and Sport formulas of Blue Lizard. I didn’t read this carefully and spread half truths when I began preaching the Blue Lizard gospel!


SPF: 30+ (Australian standards do not allow any sunscreen to claim any higher than this and if applied correctly, you should not need anything more than this!)

Chemical or Mineral: Blue Lizard Regular Formula is a combination of mineral and chemical ingredients. The active ingredients are: Octinoxate 7.5%, Octocrylene 2%, Oxybenzone 3%, Zinc Oxide 6%

Application and appearance: Blue Lizard is pretty runny out of the bottle. It spreads easily without a lot of effort. The sunscreen does NOT leave a white tint and is matte when rubbed in. No shiny residue!

Where to find: Blue Lizard can be tough to find. In Tucson Bashas’ carries it and even then, only during the summer. Any local pharmacy should be able to order it for you. It is also available through the Blue Lizard website, although the cost of shipping can be high. I usually order mine through Amazon. Free two day shipping with my prime membership works for me!

Not an ad. I purchased this product on my own dime. The link above is an Amazon affiliate link. If you buy with the link, I get a very small percentage of what you pay to help offset my review costs. I only review sunscreens which I would use on my family and myself based on basic requirements such as broad spectrum and a minimum SPF of 30.


I’m Martha. I’m a wife, a mom, a former teacher, a God chaser, a fact lover and researcher. I have stage 4 Melanoma, it’s the “bad” skin cancer. When I was diagnosed it was in my lymph nodes. It’s now tried to move into my lungs and brain and I have a few large tumors under my skin that I can feel. In mela-land we call those “sub-qs.” I’m am in a clinical trial and planning to kick ass!

I am passionate about sun safety for adults and kids. I hope to use this blog to post updates about my cancer journey as well as tips for keeping you and your family sun safe! I have a 6 and 8 year old, so I am experienced at wrestling sunscreen on squirmy kids. I am also hoping to post many sunscreen reviews. What do you want to know about sunscreen? Chemical vs. mineral? Application tips? How to protect that pesky part in your hair? Stay tuned!