This May, we are getting gross. Coolibar’s mission is to help protect the world from sun-related conditions and to support that mission we want to help educate people about skin cancer during the month of May. The ugly truth is that skin cancer is not fun or glamorous. We want to share the not-so-wonderful side of what happens after a skin cancer diagnosis with the hope that we can all help protect and prevent others from a potentially fatal or life-threatening form of cancer. Bear with us as we share stories to provide awareness, education, and spur prevention. We are among friends –now let’s get gross.
Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. In fact, in 2017, more than 160,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, with one American dying every hour of every day.
Unlike other forms of cancer which form internally, skin cancer can often be caught early. In most cases, there is something visible on the surface of the body in the form of a mole or changing freckle. Early detection is key and many people do not know what to look for. The “Let’s Get Gross” campaign invites survivors to share their stories, photos, treatment images, and scars, to help bring awareness and education to the forefront.
We are featuring valiant stories from skin cancer survivors Summer Sanders, TV host, reporter and 1996 U.S. Olympic Swimming champion and 3x Melanoma survivor, Ian Leonard, FOX 9 Chief Meteorologist, and media notable Judy Cloud, among others. With a purpose of prevention from this potentially fatal form of cancer, our campaign shares explicit photos, gripping and reality-based stories and informational facts about skin cancer to encourage annual skin checks, self-protection from UV exposure with UPF 50+ clothing, hats and SPF 30+ sunscreen and by making a difference through knowing and sharing the facts.
Each survivor simply doesn’t want anyone else to endure what they’ve experienced and they don’t want anyone to go through losing a family member or friend to this vicious cancer.
Exposing the reality, the ugly truth unites us all in helping one another.
We want to share the person who inspired this campaign: Emma Betts. Emma was diagnosed with Melanoma at the age of 22 and had a terminal diagnosis. Some stories are not pretty or fun to tell but Emma knew telling her story could save a life, change a behavior, and prevent melanoma.
Emma described her blog Dear Melanoma as an authentic glimpse into the roller coaster that is life with Stage 4 Melanoma. As soon as any of us at Coolibar clicked to follow, we were on that roller coaster with her.
We got to know Emma through her pictures and stories. Read her heartbreakingly honest posts, watched her plan a wedding to the amazing Serge, followed along with her treatments and then when she stopped her treatments, smiled when she posted pictures of Ralphy her dog, was excited to see when she bought a place and enjoyed watching her renovate the kitchen, cheered her on as she raised money, advocated, educated, and spread awareness about Melanoma. She was more than a person with Melanoma that we were learning from – we felt like we were friends with Emma even though we never met her in person.
There’s a perception that skin cancer occurs primarily among older demographic or with fair skin types. We’ve read all the statistics and data surrounding skin cancer, and melanoma does not discriminate by age, gender or race. Emma, through her pictures and writing, showed us a human side to the data. She showed us what life can be like when you are diagnosed with a terminal disease. She made it real. She inspired us to want to do anything to protect everyone from going through this ugly disease called Melanoma. Unfortunately, the statistics are against us.
“Every hour of every day one American dies from melanoma – that’s approximately 10,000 per year.”
-Melanoma Research Foundation
“In 2017, over 160,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma. Of these, approximately, 87,000 will be diagnosed with invasive (Stage I, II, III or IV)”
– Melanoma Research Foundation
Emma lived to the fullest, jumping into her dreams even though her body had an unknown expiration date. She had an impact on us and I hope now on you too.
Emma passed on April 8th, 2017. She was 25 years old.
To the people who were close to Emma, know that there are people out there, like us, who share Emma’s passion to prevent others from experiencing this deadly disease. Know that her pictures and stories matter; they live on to make a difference even all the way around the world in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We will work to change the statistics. We encourage everyone to go back and read her blog “Dear Melanoma” from the beginning and see the legacy that continues today. Dear Emma, this one is for you!
Take action today:
- Get your skin checked
- Protect yourself with UPF 50+ clothing, hats and SPF 30+ sunscreen
- Make a difference by knowing and sharing the facts
- Be part of the Let’s Get Gross Campaign by checking our Facebook page, sharing your story, reading our blog posts, and sharing them with those around you.