The father of three children, ages 21, 17 and 15, he said he was up front with them "giving them all the correct information instead of bits and pieces."
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But he was soon contacted by his doctor's office saying that he might be eligible for a new clinical trial for Ipilimumab, a new drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb. The drug was approved by the FDA in March and is the first drug approved for malignant melanoma in 13 years.
In August of 2009, Harsh was accepted as one of 10 patients in a new Ipilimumab trial offered at the Carolina's Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. Before leaving, though, Harsh did something he had always wanted to do. He and his family headed west in their camper to visit some of the country's national parks.
"I had to be eight weeks free of any drugs before I began treatment," he said. "So we just decided to do the trip and wing it."
It was good having a change of scenery, Harsh said. "You can never forget what's going on. But it's not in the forefront."
When he returned home, Harsh became one of 50 participants in the nation-wide clinical trial and began his doses of the drug, which is now called Yervoy.
After several weeks, a set of scans, he said, showed the largest tumor was completely gone.
"I was amazed to see progress so quickly," he said. "It caught the doctors by surprise, as well."
Today, Harsh has returned to work and is back to full-duty flying in Cumberland.
Harsh said he has done presentations for Bristol-Myers Squibb and has told his story in publications including Cure Magazine.
He and his family also have become advocates for sun protection.
"I never wore a hat or sun block," he said. "Now I wear sun block, a hat and long-sleeved shirts."
His daughter recently promoted a campaign at Williamsport High School during prom season, he said, asking students to avoid tanning salons.
Harsh said he continues to be a part of the clinical trial and is coming up on week 96.
"I could stop," he said. "But it's more of a security blanket. I could relapse. Plus, I wouldn't receive the CT scans every 12 weeks — and with melanoma, it can come back fast."
Harsh said some people might not want to share a similar story.
"But I want people to see how well I'm doing and, maybe, it will give them hope that anything is possible."