Jimmy Carter is a Skin Ninja

His Melanoma Is In Remission

In August 2015, 90 year-old President and home-building carpenter Jimmy Carter revealed that he had a cancer that had spread to his liver and brain.  The biopsy showed melanoma, the dreaded growth that usually starts in the skin and can metastasize.  FYI, at the time of his diagnosis, no skin melanoma was present. It may have resolved from the skin even as it traveled to deeper tissues.


The lesions seen in this image are benign seborrheic keratoses. Not from the sun, they arrive with experience and maturity. At 90, Carter has earned the right these spots.
Stage IV melanoma usually carries a poor prognosis.  Traditional treatments have failed in most cases to prevent patients from dying in a matter of months.  Carter underwent surgery, radiation treatments and a new medicine: Pembrolizumab, or Keytruda.  Given by vein, this is one of a new class of drugs designed to boost the body’s natural immune response to take down the tumor.


By December, Carter announced early success:  The combination of treatments had put his cancer into remission.  This is great news for fans of the former peanut farmer. But he is not yet out of the Georgia woods.  While these new medications can show amazing results at first, unfortunately, the cancer often becomes resistant.  Time will tell whether James Earl Carter will remain cancer-free.  Until then, he appears to continue his humanitarian efforts, such as:

Runner Up, Jimmy Carter is a Skin Ninja:

Kicking Guinea Worm’s Arse

When Carter announced his cancer diagnosis, he gracefully stated: "I would like the last Guinea worm to die before I do."  He was referring to a dreaded parasite that has haunted humans since Biblical times.

Guinea worm, or dracunculosis, is a devastating parasite like sounds like something out of a sci-fi horror flick. Contaminated drinking water spills guinea worm larvae into the intestine.  Gradually the worm forms, thin but long, sometimes up to 3 feet. It then burrows to the surface, causing a painful blister.  The unsuspecting human, seeking to relieve the pain, soaks the inflamed area. The new larvae are released into the water, continuing the effed up cycle.


Extracting the worm can take months, as it’s wrapped around a small stick and slowly drawn out.  If the worm breaks, offspring may end up in the human tissue, causing infection and possibly death.  “Alien” anyone?

Carter has been on a mission to eradicate this critter worldwide.  The Carter Center started in 1985 when there were 3.5 million active cases. Last year, the number of people infected was less than 20! Clean drinking water, using filters to prevent drinking parasites and education about the source of the worm have nearly cleared it from the earth.

Peanut farmer, President, Melanoma survivor, Parasite Killer.  Skin Ninja indeed.


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