In December of 2011, my big brother, Steve, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer. As you can imagine, it's been a rough couple of months, but with two successful surgeries behind him, he is cancer free and our goal is to keep him that way!
Now that he's facing the next phase of this journey, Steve has committed to an incredibly active, positive and healthy lifestyle and has inspired many, through his outstanding example, to do the same...including me! In late August, alongside my brother and my sister-in-law, Jill, I'll be attacking my first triathlon, the Melanoma Education Foundation Check for Change Triathlon. Partially a tribute to my brother's strength and partially something I need to do for myself, more than anything, this triathlon is really about opportunity. It's an opportunity for Team Roethke to spread awareness to all of our friends and family about melanoma and to educate you about this disease and the proactive things you need to do to keep yourself healthy.
Throughout Steve's ordeal, we've learned a lot. We've learned that melanoma is incredibly aggressive and has a high rate of recurrence, particularly if it's not detected early. We've learned that, frustratingly, there are no proven treatment options following a diagnosis. We've learned that no other families should have to deal with the fear and the unknown of this disease. And we've learned what we need to do as a family to face it, manage it and move forward. So we're fighting back. We're fighting back with healthy bodies, clear heads and uplifted hearts as we support my brother and watch him bravely and boldly face this thing head on and take back his health. Won't you please join the fight?
If you do nothing else after reading our story, please promise to do the following things:
1. Find a dermatologist and get annual skin checks. Commit right now to getting your first one within the next month. Early detection makes the difference with this disease. I cannot emphasize this enough. Go....now...and then get your kids checked, too.
2. Get over the idea that a tan makes you look healthy and accept the fact that "pale is the new black". Commit right now to a habit that includes daily sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and start this habit with your children immediately. One bad sunburn as a child dramatically increases your chances of developing melanoma later in life. Simple rules for all of you, adults and kids alike: Limit direct sun exposure, wear a hip surf shirt, reapply SPF often, find comfort in the shade, look cool in your sunglasses, invest in a good hat and then wear it...a lot.
3. Learn about the disease at www.skincheck.org. Know what to look for on your own skin and incorporate monthly self-exams into your routine. No excuses.
4. Donate using the bright orange DONATE button above. Really...you can't miss it. All proceeds from the triathlon and associated fundraising will go to the Melanoma Education Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to educating well ness teachers and teens about early detection and prevention of melanoma. Please give what you can.
5. Consider doing a triathlon.....this one, another one or anything else that gets you outside to be active, motivated and healthy. http://www.skincheck.org/Triathlon.html .
6. Continue to be the wonderfully thoughtful, supportive and helpful people you are. Your care and positive energy carries us through as we fight back against melanoma. Thanks from all of us!
With high hopes,
Karin, Steve and Jill