The Marit Peterson Fund

Marit's story: How a diagnosis led to a pledge to help.


Tumor at 17 mos.
Tumor at 17 mos.

Tumor at 12 mos.
Tumor at 12 mos.

Tumor at 11 mos.
Tumor at 11 mos.

Tumor at 6 mos.
Tumor at 6 mos.


Born on July 15, 2004 to proud parents Jeff and Candy Peterson, Marit was barely home from the hospital when Candy noticed a pink bump on her baby’s right ring finger. Full of a new mother’s concern, she pointed it out to their pediatrician during regular checkups and was reassured each time that it was nothing to worry about. But the bump grew, began to change color and bothered Marit whenever she bumped her hand.

Candy was still concerned; the bump looked much like the melanoma lesion Marit’s grandfather had several years back. When Marit was 18 months old, her parents insisted on a biopsy to be sent to the pathology laboratory. The results were inconclusive. Marit’s report was sent to two other well-known cancer hospitals for further analysis. “Still inconclusive,” they said.

After weeks of anxiously waiting, they headed to M. D. Anderson Cancer Center where Marit’s case was dealt with immediately. Jeffrey E. Lee, M.D., surgical oncologist in the Melanoma and Skin Center removed additional tissue and the sentinel lymph node, and Jeff and Candy had the answer they had been dreading. Marit had cancer, and it had spread to her lymph nodes. Without delay, Marit had further surgery followed by a year’s worth of Interferon injections to head off the chance of a recurrence. She continues to return to M. D. Anderson each year to monitor her progress.

Marit’s family, overwhelmed with thanks for Dr. Lee and M. D. Anderson, felt compelled to give back and did so by creating The Marit Peterson Fund for Melanoma Research. The family feels strongly that genetics played a role in Marit’s melanoma and want to support research of the inherited genome for melanoma. The fund is managed by Dr. Lee and is currently the single largest and highest-quality melanoma study of its kind in the world.


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