For melanoma survivor’s son, MD Anderson-Topgolf corporate alliance is personal

MD Anderson has been a part of Len Turpin’s family for generations. In the 1960s, his paternal great-grandmother was successfully treated here for ovarian cancer, and in the early 1980s, his father was successfully treated here for melanoma. “MD Anderson is an amazing institution,” says Len, who was just 11 when his father was diagnosed. “It really makes a difference in people’s lives.” A melanoma diagnosis Len’s father, Kenneth Turpin, came to MD Anderson in Sept. 1981, after discovering a swollen lymph node under his right arm. He was diagnosed with stage III melanoma by the late Charles M. McBride, M.D. Its source was a birthmark on Kenneth’s right upper arm. Ironically, the mole had been examined regularly and deemed non-cancerous for years. “He’d had that mole all his life and it never gave him any trouble,” Len says. “But right before Dad was diagnosed, it suddenly ‘bleached out.’ Then he found the swollen lymph node, which turned out to be a tumor the size of a large lemon.” An early immunotherapy clinical trial Len’s father had the tumor removed at a hospital near his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He came to MD Anderson for additional treatment, and had surgery here to remove another 16 lymph nodes on the right side of his body. He also participated in an immunotherapy clinical trial for something called “MER therapy” (or methanol extraction residue of bacillus Calmette-Guerin). Patients are still being treated with a related drug today. “It was a pretty rough experience,” Len adds. “And there was a point when we didn’t know if Dad was going to make it....