Friday, June 1, 2012

A Month I Never Expected

As Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month approached, I anticipated increased traffic on Facebook, some token under-informed skin cancer stories on local TV news, and an extra article or two in the paper about using sunscreen.  Honestly, that’s about all I recall from previous years (admittedly being only “aware” just last year).  Wow, did this month turn out different and better than expected!  Here are just a few highlights:

·       The most unlikely of people pushed Melanoma Awareness Month from the Health Page to the Front Page…a tanner!  Patricia Krentcil, aka “Tan Mom,” became the talk of the water cooler…not because of the accusations that she took her daughter into a tanning booth, but because of her uber-tanning appearance.  To quote the spoof on Saturday Night Live, she “looks like a baseball glove.”  Yes, Tan Mom created discussions on the safety of tanning beds across the country and on every media venue imaginable.  Nearly every story on TV or in the paper about Ms. Krentcil also had the subtext that “this is Melanoma Awareness Month.”  Thank you Tan Mom for being our anti-hero!

·       Because of the interest in Tan Mom, several melanoma warriors were interviewed in both print and television.  Some of these are posted on a new website called “Faces Of Melanoma.”  Check under “Making a Difference.”  Also, Chelsea Price not only appeared via Skype on the Dr. Drew show, Headlines News did an entire piece on her and her blog.  Great, great stuff!

·       Many folks participated in several walks and events across the country.  I was unable to attend any myself, but am anxiously awaiting the AIM for Melanoma walk in Charlotte, NC in November.  (Feel free to sponsor me by clicking the link in the upper left of this blog page).

·       NBC’s Today Show did a piece on tanning beds which showcased an advocate for the tanning industry.  While the NBC medical expert slammed the tanning biz, the opposing gentleman’s smarminess left a bad taste.  And all this was reported as a model fried in a tanning bed in the background!  So many people were angered by the Today Show…but they redeemed themselves with an excellent expose on how tanning salons are not following the New Jersey law regarding parental consent for minors.  Half of the salons investigated showed that they let in 15 year old girls with no problem.  This pretty much confirmed the sleazy or uninformed nature of the tanning industry as reported a couple months earlier in a Senate Report.

·       Coach Bill Cowher announced his involvement with a new campaign called Melanoma Exposed.  What many people may not realize is that men are at a higher risk for developing melanoma than women.  Approximately 5,800 men die annually compared to 3,000 women.  This is not to say we need to stop warning young women against tanning…but Coach’s involvement may help get stubborn men to the dermatologist earlier to have their skin checked.

·       Sadly, at the statistical rate of one person dying of melanoma each hour, we probably lost over 700 warriors to melanoma this month.  This hit close to home as a couple of folks who have “Liked” my Facebook page and commented on this blog passed away this month.  They will be missed.

·       And yet miracles happen as so many of us stayed glued to the Facebook as Steve Hock went under the knife for his grueling 8 hour surgery to have tumors removed from his brain.  There was a real risk that he could have come out in a vegetative state…but latest photos shows him being alert and miraculously well.  His success may not ease the pain of those lost, but it certainly offers hope to those still fighting.

·       On a somewhat selfish note, my blog post “RealPeople of Melanoma” surpassed the 1,800 page view mark this month.   That is six times as many hits as my next most-read post.  Chelsea told me that a producer at CNN found that post linked from her blog…and the producer loved it.  But my thrill in the readership is not about the numbers at all…it’s about knowing that the word is getting out there.  It seems to get read by a few people every day despite having been written back in January.  Don’t be surprised if a Part 2 comes out in the next few months.

·       Finally, the word IS getting out.  The one “enemy” to our cause is the tanning industry.  It’s evident that our grassroots effort is starting to pay off because those who support tanning beds are starting to leave comments in not only my blog, but others’.  If someone or something is not a threat, you ignore it.  Well, we’re no longer being ignored, which means we must be a threat to the industry.  This is exciting to know!

We had an incredible month!  So many people are now aware…and this is just the beginning!


  1. I am excited that melanoma awareness is finally getting some attention. My sweet daughter Rebecca was one of those 700 who lost her fight this month. She was only 23 and she did not sunbath, she spoke against the tanning habit of so many of her friends. Thank you for your help in spreading the word.

  2. It IS just the beginning! Great post! Keep it up!

  3. Thought: maybe if you said something about people would participate. I'm just not reaching people.

  4. It was one heck of a month! I couldn't be more proud of all of the attention melanoma has received lately. Big things are happening!

    PS) I definitely think you should do a part 2!