Archives

SunAWARE Wellness Warriors

Skin Cancer Survivor Carol

Carol Schuler was in her early 30s when she found a freckle on the left side of her face that appeared abnormal, it turned out to be Lentigo Maligna (a form of melanoma).

Carol’s Story

I had [the freckle that turned out to be Lentigo Maligna] looked at about 8 years before I did something about it, but then had Mohs procedure on it about 15 years ago followed by extensive plastic surgery.

I remember this freckle showing up and not noticing that it was growing and changing since it was so slow. When I mentioned it to my family doctor, I was told to just keep an eye on it. If I had gone to a dermatologist right way, I might have avoided having a chunk of my face the size of a 50-cent piece cut out of my face years later. Since I was living in Australia at the time, when I would go home in the summer my best friend Julie started bugging me about it.  Being a busy mother of 3 children my tendency was to put my own health at the end of the list of to do’s. This is a cautionary tale about taking the time for your own health in order to ensure that you are here for your kids in the future.

I feel very lucky to be able to have had it taken care of even though it had grown rather large. I also wear very high quality sunscreen on my face every day of the year. Winter sun can be just as damaging with prolonged exposure.  Now that there are great, breathable fabrics like SUNTECT® from Coolibar – I am able to spend as much time as I like outside without worrying about skin damage.

When I was living in Australia I used to only put on sunscreen when I was going to the beach or pool but the sun was there every minute of the day so I should have applied sunscreen every day regardless of my activity.

Don’t put off going to the doctor to have something checked, the sooner the better.  The time you take to deal with it today just might save your life.

No Comments
Success Stories Wellness Warriors

A 6-Year-Old Melanoma Hero

It’s not fair that anyone should have to deal with something as life altering as melanoma, especially a 6-year-old. Rachael was only 5 when she was diagnosed with stage III melanoma on September 10, 2009. After a year of battling and conquering melanoma, Rachael and her family know all too well why sun protection is important.

It all started with a little mole on her left arm that Rachael complained hurt. Rachael’s mom, Danielle, took her to the doctor thinking the mole was nothing, but better be on the safe-side. Once at the Doctor’s office, the physician removed the mole and everything was assumed to be okay. While this spot was not initially diagnosed as stage III melanoma, after the first biopsy, doctors knew it was something. It was confirmed after Rachael had a wide local excision on her arm three inches long and a biopsy of the sentinel lymph node, where they removed a few lymph nodes to look for cancer cells. 

While the typical survival rate for stage III melanoma is 60 percent, Rachael was in a rare, but good situation for the circumstances. Doctors told Danielle that children under the age of 10 diagnosed with malignant melanoma have a high survival rate, but further action was necessary. The treatment Doctors recommended for Rachael has been used on less than 100 children in Rachael’s situation and all survived. Her treatment never incorporated chemo, but rather surgery (to remove all lymph nodes under her left arm), four weeks of interferon given daily through an IV using a picc line (which can make the patient ill), weekly injections through the picc line for 48 weeks, and what will be years of follow-up tests. Rachael received a bead through the Beads of Courage program for every treatment she went through. By the end of the year, her necklace of beads was worth more than a thousand words.

Rachael's Beads of Courage

Fortunately, Rachael’s cancer was caught early. She is living healthfully and cancer-free now among her parents and brother; however, her journey to wellbeing was not an easy one, and the experience has forever changed her life as well as her family. Danielle says, “A year into this, how has life changed for us? I think about the sun every single day… I no longer think 15 minutes without sunscreen is okay. Rachael wears a hat every day.  She wears it in the pool.  She wears it to the beach.  She wears it in the shade.” Danielle does this with great reason too. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, about 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Rachael and those surrounding her are now all practicing sun-safe habits every day under the sun.

Danielle’s Blog chronicles their family’s journey through pediatric melanoma: http://iloveyoumorethanmost.blogspot.com

Organizations such as the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation aggressively focus attention on the need to teach “prevention” and “sun protection” to children, and their caregivers. Learn more about this program and tools you can use to teach future generations how to be SunAWARE.

No Comments
Wellness Warriors

14 Year Melanoma Survivor

Tim Burriss, Melanoma Survivor and founder of the Stay Out of the Sun Foundation passionately promotes awareness of the dangers of sun exposure and melanoma research.  He discusses his work with us.

I am a very grateful 14 year melanoma survivor! 

In May 2006 I started the Stay Out of the Sun Run to benefit melanoma research and education at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  We have had great success and have contributed over $120,000 to the Mayo Clinic and have had over 2,700 participants in just 5 years.  

Mayo Clinic has used these proceeds for the 2009 Melanoma Patient Symposium, Melanoma CME course for the professional staff, and Mayo Proceedings publication of several research articles prepared by Mayo Clinic researchers.  We are in the process of wrapping up the 2010 event and starting the preparations for the 6th Annual Stay Out of the Sun Run on May 20, 2011.  For more information please visit our website at Stay Out of the Sun Foundation

 
2010 SOSR 10K Runners - Rochester, MN

2 Comments