Please help us move GIST research forward in our quest for a cure. We do not want any other family to have to endure the despair and destruction that this cancer brings.

Let's spread the awareness!

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Fund the Research!

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Walk for Merak!

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A step challenge to spread the awareness and to fund the research to cure GIST!

Merak Melikian Hatounian

At the age of 20, Debra Melikian’s only child Merak was diagnosed with a rare hereditary form of cancer known as SDH-deficient Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (SDH-deficient GIST). Currently, there is no cure.

Merak refused to let cancer define him as he lived his life on his own terms with drive and fierce determination.  He learned how to fight cancer by watching his father, Keith bravely fight a related form of cancer. No matter how difficult cancer’s challenges got, Merak never complained. Merak continued to maintain his positive attitude and outlook and kept fighting, all the while inspiring and motivating others, near and far.  Sadly, in February 2020, Merak, at 25 years old, passed away with his loving mother at his side. We all agree that Merak touched so many lives. His memory will live on with everyone who knew and loved him.

Thank you for helping us make a difference in GIST Cancer research today.

Please donate today!

Help us to reach our goal to raise $100,000 to fund GIST research.

This step challenge is being organized by nurses and health care workers who look forward to your support to fund the research to cure GIST.
Debra Melikian

Debra Melikian

Merak's mother

Debra Melikian is a “mother on a mission” whose passion is to raise awareness and financial support for GIST cancer research.

Maura Caffrey, RN

Registered Nurse, Surgical Oncology

Maura is one of the very special surgical oncology nurses in San Diego, CA. Maura founded "Miles for Merak Step Challenge" in 2020.

Jason Sicklick, MD

Surgical Oncologist

Jason Sicklick, MD, is a general surgeon and surgical oncologist who specializes in treating hepatobiliary diseases and sarcomas, including gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). He has a special interest in abdominal and retroperitoneal sarcomas, primary liver tumors and colorectal and neuroendocrine cancers that have metastasized to the liver.

Jaimin R. Shah

Cancer researcher

Jaimin R. Shah is a cancer researcher. He has a special interest in improving delivery and therapeutic efficacy of oncolytic viruses.

Megan Bandfield, RN

Registered Nurse, Surgical Oncology

Megan is a highly skilled surgical oncology nurse in San Diego, CA.

Kristina James, RN

REGISTERED NURSE, Assistant Nurse Manager

Kristina is an assistant nurse manager in San Diego, CA. She is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student at Purdue University Northwest.