Miles for Melanoma

A new lease on life inspires one man to give back

By Mayo Clinic Staff
Milan Kesic

After surviving cancer, Milan Kesic (second from left) sprung into action to raise money for cancer research at Mayo Clinic.

As soon as his oncologist told him he had a better-than-even chance of surviving, Milan Kesic knew he had to give something back.

He was at Mayo Clinic, where doctors had just removed a melanoma tumor the size of a cigar box. A few days before, his oncologist, Svetomir Markovic, M.D., Ph.D., had told him there was a 60 percent chance the tumor had spread. If it had, the 39-year-old father of two probably wouldn't live to his next birthday.

But it hadn't spread, and Milan's priorities quickly changed. Material things — fancy cars, nice homes and luxury watches — were no longer important. Instead, he placed greater value in family and in helping others.

Soon after doctors removed his tumor, Milan set a goal to raise $25,000 to support the melanoma research of Dr. Markovic, who is the Charles F. Mathy Professor of Melanoma Research. He launched a 5K race, Miles for Melanoma, and set up an online fundraising account and Facebook page to support it. He made a video about his experience and that of his brother, who was diagnosed with the same disease one week after Milan. He even took donations to shave his cherished beard.

"Helping people and giving back is my number one priority," Milan says. "I'm so grateful to Dr. Markovic and his team for helping me stay alive that I decided I was going to try and help other people do the same thing. I figured God spared me for a reason and I needed to accomplish more while here."

Milan nearly tripled his goal by raising about $65,000.

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